This morning I delivered the following concerns to the DMC Board.
I am careful to always try to maintain perspective and be thankful for the wonderful opportunity that DMC Presents to the city of Rochester. The transportation section of the DMC plan is absolutely fantastic and can create a world-class amenity for residents and visitors. I am incredibly appreciative of the opportunity before us but know it is not my role to sit back and watch the show. I have tried to be proactive and express my concerns early and often and I will do so once again.
I would like to make the board aware of the following five key concerns on behalf of myself and the citizens that I represent. There are many small items that I can be nitpicky about, but am focusing my comments on larger concerns.
1) Language in the DMC Plan seems to leave open the possibility that Mayo may choose to disregard the guidance in the plan a pursue alternate plans. I am not will to pursue $1 billion in public infrastructure with the hopes that our partners will share our commitment. Rather it is my intent to modify all zoning districts in the DMC area to require large capital projects will comply with the DMC process and plan. Further items of previous agreement, especially the creation of a community wide TMA have failed to materialize primarily because of the reluctance of Mayo to participate. This must end, our community must stand together or we will hang together.
2) A purported “official statement” from the DMC staff implied that it is this boards belief that the private EDA Corporation funding shall be provided by the city of Rochester. This statement flew in the face of bill authors, Senate research, the city council, and as it turns out members of the DMCC Board. In carefully reviewing your previous meetings and discussing with board members, not only has the DMCC never taken this position, they appear to have never discussed it. My question directed to staff was never responded to. More importantly since the DMC legislation never intended for the city to pay EDA costs, it provided no tools to pay those costs. Based on your projections and out lack of a funding mechanism the Rochester property tax levy will have to be raised 6% in 2016 just to cover the annual operations of a private corporation. I ask this board to clarify if they wish us to raise property taxes 6% to fund a private corporation.
3) Finance Plan – As many of you are well aware of there are serious shortcomings in the current infrastructure and finance plan. Assumptions regarding the contributions the city of Rochester would be making beyond $128 million are completely detached from reality and these estimates need to be reigned in. The funding for critical municipal infrastructure pieces seems to be outlandish. A future $50 million library expense is projected to be paid for by $5 million in DMC funds and other Non-DMC sources such as sponsorships. This type of assumption blows $45 million holes in local budgets.
4) We need a plan and not a guideline. Some staff members are requesting that we regard this document simply as a guideline. I feel that at a minimum we need to take steps to preserve the integrity of the plan infrastructure pieces and ensure developments will not be permitted that will deny the realization of the end product. From a city standpoint I will also fight the notion that we should pick and choose pieces from expert recommendation based on our own biases, I want a great realistic plan that we will only stray from after extensive analysis and consensus and not the whim of a particular development. We also need DMC staff to be present in a way that they have not been as the downtowner discussion illustrates.
5) The financial contributions seem to necessitate the use of a ¼ percent sales tax increase. I can see no real path to meeting the cash flow requirements of the DMC financial plan with out the imposition of this option. While this option Is on of several tools we were presented I feel that we have been a little disingenuous if there really is only one viable option. I would like to see more honest discussion of the financial impacts of the DMC plan on my constituent. I understand that the DMC plan offers great leverage and assets for the city of Rochester but fear that we al creating a false impression that we are going to achieve this without experieqncing any financial impacts.
Thank you for you attention and commitment to the city of Rochester.
Rochester City Council