This article sheds light on a prime example of government micro-managing and unintended consequences.
With the Raleigh City Council wavering over whether to go forward with a new $205 million public safety center, critics of the building are honing their sights on the project’s fine print.
Particularly irksome for Joey Stansbury, who heads the conservative group Wake Community PAC, is the $705,000 designated to pay for public art for the 17-story building.
“It’s a lack of priorities,” said Stansbury.
But the money for public art is required by a city ordinance passed last spring that calls for all capital improvement projects, like the center, to dedicate to the purchase of art as much as one-half of one percent of the total cost of a project.
Construction of the Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center building itself accounts for $140 million of the total price tag, giving way to the $705,000 estimate for art.
I find it somewhat ironic that Raleigh taxpayers are forced to spend $705,000 on art in a new public safety center instead of spending that money on, gee I don’t know, public safety.
There are a number of other issues of concern surrounding the new Safety Center in Raleigh, notably:
- The City of Raleigh is financing the new building (along with $276 million for “remote operations facilities”) with debt not approved by voters
- The unapproved debt will come at a higher interest rate, costing city taxpayers roughly $6.5 million more (according the preliminary city estimates) over the course of repayment
- Raleigh already has the highest debt per capita true debt of any city in North Carolina
- Debt service in Raleigh’s city budget more than tripled in five years (2004-2009). Payments on debt in the 2009 budget consumed about 18% of total budget expenditures, up from 10.3% in 2004. That means basically one in five dollars spent in the city budget is already going toward paying down debt
- At the height of repayment for this debt, annual debt service for these projects will total $47 million – a 40% increase over 2009 debt service levels