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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Money, money, money...

For weeks, everyone connected to the political scene in Troy has been talking it relates to the proposed new multi-modal transit center.

Well...what if we just forget about the cost of the project?

Seriously...what if we didn't frame every decision with discussions about a pricetag? Someone very wise said recently,

"What if the notion that all activities should have an economic benefit is a flawed premise? What if economics should have nothing to do with the way we live? It may be a stretch for some people to imagine but I think there are things that humanity needs to do that should have nothing to do with the economics of it."

You know...I think he/she is on to something.

Recently, a very vocal council member shared that the past several years of economic strife has hit his family hard. He had to make some difficult decisions, one of which was buying a USED Cadillac. Clearly it wasn't all about the money for this gentleman. There are hundreds of other cars that would have accomplished the same task as his Cadillac for a lot less financial outlay.

That same councilman likes telling us that there are other options to a transit center that cost less...and maybe he's right. So why didn't he buy a used car of a lesser cost/stature? Wouldn't something else have accomplished the same task of getting him to and from work just as well?

The answer is yes.

But he clearly had sound reasons for choosing such an extravagant vehicle within his depleted budget. So it doesn't always need to be about what it's going to COST us, but rather how it could make our lives easier, better, more comfortable, more efficient...any number of things that aren't directly related to the price tag.

Take some of the other amenities in Troy, like the Family Aquatic Center. Right about the time I moved in and joined that facility, there was a HUGE call to close it, bull-doze it and move on. Mayor Pryor was unhappy it wasn't making money, and rather than be patient about figuring out how to help it along...he wanted to be done. Didn't matter that it was a GREAT convenience for residents, a feather in the cap of Troy, a lovely amenity to offer was a drain on a portion of the city budget.

Short-sighted and narrow-minded thinking would have closed it (just like that same thinking would have closed our library)...

An important difference with the transit center is that the money is coming from the federal government. NO ONE is asking Troy taxpayers to spend $8 million+ for it.

Oh, I know...I've heard the same rhetoric about that money:

"It's still OUR money! We gave it to the government!"
Did you know that if you DON'T spend it in Troy, it'll go to another city for THEIR transit projects?

"The government should put that money toward the federal deficit!"
Did you know that money won't be put back for that? It was collected and earmarked for transit projects.

"Sure, the $8 million will pay for getting the trains here...then what??? Troy will be on the hook!"
Did you know that folks have been working on this project for as long as 10-12 YEARS and have already worked out a lot of those details? Much -- if not nearly all -- of the ongoing cost/maintenance of the center will be covered by the leases of the businesses occupying it.

Just because some in our viewing audience (and on council) might only just be waking up doesn't mean these same issues haven't already been raised.

For months we've been hearing all about HOW MUCH money Troy really it could fund our library for 7-day service...plow all our for all our services. Why would this project suddenly now be such a huge burden?

For months we've heard two new city govt. members who are real estate agents tell us how rosy the outlook is. Why are they NOW stone-walling on this project because, they say, we don't need it in tough times?

We're talking about an estimated $30,000/year cost MAYBE to run maintenance on the Transit Center after it's all paid for with federal dollars. If we have ALL that money...why NOT spend it to provide convenience, revenue, and progress?

So if it doesn't have to be about the money...why wouldn't we move forward with this project?


  1. I totally agree to keep the amount of money out of the story for a change. The cost is high, yes. We know. However, if it is not built now, then when, if ever? The cost will only go up higher every year it does not get built. So why not now? If we had the center ten years ago when the cost was high in 2001 dollars, we would be sitting comfortably on a train right now talking about how smart we were to build this now instead of ten years from now. Looking beyond a ten year scope is what people and yes cities need to do in order to achieve great things. We need this center now or it will never be possible.

  2. Interesting, lets make my 6 year old American made vehicle that is currently worth about
    $ 10,000 the poster child of extravagance... FYI, I just installed my own brakes on it (personally... got my own hands dirty doing it in my garage), replaced the tires for the third time, and am hoping like heck the engine that has already been rebuilt once under warranty holds up for another 30,000 miles or so... because I decided like I always do to buy American. As for the size and quality of the vehicle... if you understand what a Realtor does at all, you'll know he/she needs to have a car that is dependable, can hold an elderly couple comfortably, and doesn't make you look like you're unsuccessful in your business (tough to list a house when you pull up in a Pinto). The Cadillac fulfills all of those requirements and gets 19 miles/gallon, and I was able to purchase it at about the same price almost every other car in it's class cost at the time I made the purchase (used cars tanked just like real estate did in '09). Now if you want to have a conversation about not spending $ 8 million dollars on a train with a very low likelihood of ridership... without pontificating about why I drive a Cadillac, I'm open.


  3. You see that you are actually making my point, right?