Adams Speaks on Crystal’s Finances
By Andrew Richter
I’d like to share a column written by Crystal Mayor Jim Adams on the financing of Crystal’s Public Works Building;
Several years ago the City Council and staff began planning for the replacement of the existing Public Works facility on 41st and Brunswick, which dates back to the 1950s, before Crystal even became a city, and was badly in need of replacement.
In 2013 the council and city staff began discussions about specific plans for replacing the building, and had many debates about the best way to pay for it. The debate boiled down to that one side wanted to use existing cash assets to pay for the building, while the other wanted to borrow money. At a simplified level, it was essentially the difference between using money in our savings account or putting the building on our credit card and paying finance charges.
I was on the side of using cash to pay for the building, because that way the taxpayers would be getting something tangible (bricks and mortar) for their investment instead of having to put taxpayer money into interest payments.
In municipal accounting, all of the city’s cash assets are put into one bank account, and then split up into various “funds,” that exist only in our accounting software and are used to help city management plan for the future and manage the city. All of the money in the bank account belongs to the citizens of Crystal, and sometimes it becomes necessary to shift money from one fund to another as needs arise.
Earlier this year the City Council voted 6-1 to use $13.5 million in cash to pay for the new public works building. About $10 million was money that was saved up in a major building replacement fund, and this was the primary funding for the new building. The remainder of the balance came from other city funds (moving taxpayer dollars from one paper account to another).
After all obligations for the public works facility are met, the city will still have roughly $42 million in our bank account divided up among the various funds. The council also has a preliminary plan in place to rebuild the major building fund going forward. We will be voting on that plan later this year.
What? $42 million? You mean everything isn’t bankrupt like the false claims by ReNae Bowman supporters?
Unfortunately we live in a city that has an aging infrastructure, and this won’t be the last building we have to replace. We’ll also have to address our aging water and sewer pipes, roads, and other infrastructure. My commitment is that I will always make fiscally sound decisions that balance our needs for today with the needs of tomorrow, while avoiding unnecessary borrowing expense.
In other words, we shouldn’t borrow and charge the taxpayers interest unless it is absolutely necessary.
Don’t look for this logic to make its way into the minds of the people who hate Mayor Adams and this new council, though. For them hatred will reign.