April 18, 2015
In Brio Blues we talked about the expensive kiosks that are at each Brio stop. While passengers are asked to purchase a ticket before boarding a bus, we learned that the toll box on the bus is not used to read the tickets.
Ridership is based upon the honor system.
In Another giveaway we learned that each of the outdoor ticket kiosks costs us $58,500. We never have learned how much each of the solar powered trash cans that are at some of the Brio stops cost us.
I took the Brio from downtown back out to the west side the other day. The ticket kiosk was not working so I could not buy my ticket. I boarded the bus through the front doors and told the driver that the machine was not working.
His response was to tell me to pay the toll box onboard the bus.
Evidently the toll boxes do work. Yet passengers are not required to produce their fare tickets when boarding the bus.
If Sun Metro wants people to ride for free why have they spent so much money on the ticket kiosks and the toll boxes?
And while we’re at it, could someone explain the economics of solar powered trash cans?
We deserve better
April 17, 2015
This from Helen Marshall:
A suggestion was made on the post regarding the limited service to the baseball games to take a “regular bus” to the game. To be frank, I had not realized how bad it was until I looked at the Sun Metro site. You cannot go to a ball game and return home from downtown on a “regular” bus, unless you are willing to just spend an hour or so on weekday and Saturday nights (exception, the Mesa express leaves at 9:15, so you can catch quite a bit of the game but probably not all). It’s easier to see a game on Sunday, and get a bus home, but you won’t be riding the $27 million Brio on Mesa, as there is no Sunday service.
The last run from the Downtown Transfer Center (DTC):
Route #3 is at 8:15, Sunday 6:15.
#10 last run at 7:50, Sunday at 5:10
#11, last run at 6:25, 6:00 on weekends
#14 last run at 8:15, 6:11 on Sunday
#15, the Mesa express, last run at 9:15, Saturday 8:15, Sunday 6:40
#18 The westside express, direct to the Westside Transfer Center, last run at 8:09, Saturday at 7:30, Sunday at 7:05
#21 No weekend service
#23 Last run at 7:00
#34 Last run at 7:10
#50 To the Eastside Transfer Center, 9:15, Saturday 8:15, Sunday 7:15.
None of these routes from Downtown would allow you to attend any event downtown that would last past, say, 9 pm, and on weekends not even that late. The Brio that runs up Mesa stops at 6 p.m. Forget downtown dinner on Saturday! Unless of course you want to take a taxi home…from the convenient taxi rank downtown, which is located….oops…
April 16, 2015
Doing research for some recent posts I went to the city website to read minutes of the Downtown Development Corporation (DDC) meetings.
The DDC is a legal maneuver that city council used to facilitate building our ball park. It is city council under a different name.
The DDC has published agendas for January 8, May 28, June 18, August 1, and October 15 of 2013 and March 17 of 2015.
Minutes are available for the first two meetings. Who said what during the meetings where this bond mess was created is information that is not available to us.
Members of council are now telling us that they did not know how bad the situation was. They say they were never told.
I suppose videos would be out of the question.
We deserve better.
April 15, 2015
The chart we posted the other day in Try to get a home mortgage like this one has been on my mind and I finally figured out why.
Let’s go back to the ball park financing issue as it rolled out to the taxpayers.
- We were told that the ball park was going to be built whether we wanted it or not. The election was not about whether to build the ball park but how it would be paid for.
- We were told that if we voted yes in the election the hotel occupancy tax would pay for the costs of building the ball park.
- We were told that state law forbid the use of property tax receipts to pay for the ball park because of the statute they chose to use to create the funding.
Yet the chart that the city came up with after the election shows that the city did not intend to pay any of the principal due on the debt for the first ten years of financing.
Why? There was not enough money projected to come in from the hotel occupancy taxes (HOT). They admitted right there and then that HOT money would not be adequate to pay for the ball park. In fact HOT money is not even sufficient to pay the interest on the debt. They are using general fund money to make up the shortfall. The general fund gets revenue from property taxes, sales taxes, and fines and fees.
If the chart showed the city paying both principal and interest starting in year one and HOT money proved to be insufficient then we might be convinced to believe that someone just missed a number. In this case however they planned to skip principal payments for the first ten years. Why? Because they knew HOT money would not be sufficient to pay for the ball park and lying to the bond buyers could land them in jail.
Lying to us was a choice they made because they did not expect repercussions.
We deserve better
April 14, 2015
Back in 2013 we were told that our debt costs relating to the ball park were going to be $17 million more than the numbers we had when the election was held.
The reason? Bond buyers thought our deal was too risky and they wanted more money in return for their risk.
Well as it turns out the real number was $27.5 million.
According to the Times the Downtown Development Corporation (city council in sheep’s clothing) was never told about the extra $10.5 million.
How convenient. Those bad former city employees did this to us. Never mind council’s responsibility to see to it that our money is managed well.
Now we are being told that general fund money will be necessary until 2023.
That isn’t the half of it. The city’s chart printed below shows that we are not even going to make principal payments until 2023. Then we will have to make a $17.6 million dollar payment against the principal. Where will that money come from? If they take it from the general fund they will be using property tax money and Texas law does not allow that. Will some future council have to levy some new fee? Will there be a bond election to issue debt to pay debt?
Will the perpetrators ever be punished?
We deserve better
April 13, 2015
It should not surprise us that the numbers recently released by the city show that their previous revenue projections relating to the ballpark were wrong.
Hotel occupancy taxes, sales taxes, and parking revenue were all over estimated. Even the “crazies” might see how one number was missed, but all three?
One number came in better than expected–ticket sales. More people attended games than they projected. That is good.
Why then were parking revenues below expectations? Did someone game that revenue source or was the original number miscomputed? A city official promised to look into that.
The net effect is that the city had to take almost one million dollars out of the general fund to pay interest on the bonds that we were told would be self sustaining.
The general fund is made up of property and sales taxes as well as fees and fines. Last year city council had to levy a multi-million dollar fee against water bills to cover a shortfall in the city budget.
Texas state law does not allow the city to pay for the ballpark with property taxes because of the way the election was held. Yet the city is using general fund money to do it.
Some will try to argue that the specific part of the general fund they are using does not come from property taxes. That is like trying to argue that your spouse’s paycheck does not contribute to your mortgage payment.
The facts are in. There should be consequences for the people that did this to us. If laws have not been violated then maybe at the least we should publicly shun the former city employees that did this to us.
What will the city council do about this?
We deserve better
April 12, 2015
This from Helen Marshall:
I am glad that Sun Metro is offering help to get to the ball games, more or less confirming that there is in fact far too little parking downtown, especially if there is another event on the same evening as a game.
BUT. Where we are, near Kern Place, is about two miles to downtown or to the GLory Road transfer station (where there is no service). To use the Ball Game Special, I would have to drive nearly ten miles to the Remcon Transfer Station, and then take the bus back downtown! Seems a bit crazy. This scheme works for those who are near that transfer station, or live north of it in the Upper Valley. …