The Edwards Agency

Opinion

Whose money is it?

bond issue A friend and I were discussing the situation surrounding the current effort to purchase Woodinville School property by the city of Woodinville. This letter is not an opinion on whether the project makes sense, but I do have two concerns about the financial considerations.
   If memory serves, the school and property was willed to the Northshore School District and would remain theirs as long as the property was used for a school. Furthermore, I believe that if it was subsequently used for any other purpose, it would revert to the heirs of the donor family.
   If this is the case, then charging another government entity for a charitable gift appears to me as gouging the taxpayer. That's you and me, last time I looked.
   I am of the opinion that any time a government agency has surplus property and the market is another public entity, the property should be transferred with no taxpayer liability. This is especially true if the selling agency paid nothing for the property to begin with, which is the case in this instance.
   Secondary to the method of transfer of title, I am also greatly concerned if the city has thoroughly examined all of the potential latent charges should the sale be consummated.
   What are the costs dealing with bringing the building up to all codes, including earthquake standards, adding sprinkler systems, meeting the Americans with Disabilities Act (two-story buildings require an elevator)? And how about huge costs dealing with the elimination of asbestos?
   Has anyone fulfilled a financial impact statement on this project? If not, why not? Developers figured out a long time ago it is much cheaper to tear down and start over in virtually all cases. The public deserves to know.
   The total tab to complete this endeavor may not seem like a lot of money to the city fathers, but to most taxpayers like me, it is significant. My property taxes have skyrocketed just like everyone else's, and I, for one, am not willing to accept any more increases.
   I am reminded by a statement made a long time ago by Senator Dirksen from Texas that goes like this: "A billion here and a billion there, pretty soon you're talking real money."
   Two underlying questions remain: "How many times do the taxpayers have to buy a property before we own it?" And "Whose money is it anyway?"
   I can answer the second one. It's not your money, it's ours.

Frank W. Peep, Woodinville