Low Information And White Elephants

Cross posted from RightMichigan.Com

Troy had the right idea, and the right Mayor.

Once upon a time.

Mayor Janice Daniels in December of 2011 led the opposition in the Troy City Council for an $8.5 million train depot for good reason.  Her opposition to a project that would be built with free money was framed with an understanding that nothing is truly free.  Even after the project was stripped down a month later, and re-presented for a couple million less, she held her ground, and looked at the bigger picture.  Ongoing expenses make the continuing use of the pusher-man’s product not nearly as euphoric as when it was offered for free.

The Troy City Council didn’t get it, and the vote for the effort was shifted. Even in the face of the citizen commentary that was recorded as 11-7 in opposition to the transit center.  As RightMichigan.com poster Rougman pointed out at the time, its $5,500/sq ft cost was stripped down to $3,100/sq ft (a travesty for its cheapness) and the gold plated accoutrements would have to be withheld.

By shaving off 400 square feet the project’s cost has been lowered significantly. That was some expensive square footage there–roughly coming in at $5,500 per square foot. The smaller and redrawn project will cost a mere $3,100 per square foot which I find absolutely alarming…what kind of slum are these bureaucrats trying to push over on us? No gold toilet seats? No granite counter tops?”

Indeed.

He also pointed out that part of the upkeep would go away in a special fashion:

Holding fast to principle, the council also dispensed itself with the estimated $30,000 of annual maintenance that would have been its portion of upkeep. Voila! No cleaning needed!

Legacy expenses are often hidden with the high maintenance ‘gift’ know as light rail.  so maybe we just don’t bathe the beast.

An accompanying cost that most will not recall was mentioned by another RightMichigan regular,  CS, who faithfully noted a chronicle of the suckling pigs squealing:

“I would think you’d want a city government that is a good steward of tax dollars and uses them wisely; after all, that’s what an entity should be doing with its resources…. right?

This past April, the Michigan Economic Growth Authority approved a three-year $1.5 million state tax credit for Magna in support of plans to invest $765,000 in its Troy facility for a new division, which was estimated to create 200 new jobs.

Oh that’s nice.  The state paid twice for the investment that the company made?

The state pays, the fed pays, we pay. Twice, three times, SOLD!  Follow these entire projects through, and it would be amazing we don’t discover the veritable crony (corporatist) capitalist sneaking into our driveways at night siphoning the gas from our tanks to top off their own.  They have expenses you see.  The cost of running business presumably too big to fail requires continuing infusions of taxpayer largesse.

So if you don’t mind, its time to break out the credit card again.  The Pontiac-Detroit-Chicago route is now seeing an additional burden to state taxpayers of $25 million. 

Added to the $8 million Michigan provides for its other two Amtrak lines, the state’s tab for passenger rail service will jump to about $33 million.

Tim Hoeffner, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s rail office, said the state has little choice but to absorb the added cost if it wants to meet a growing demand for passenger train service in the lower half of the state.

Noted futher, we “knew about it.”  It was part of the plan. And our governor and legislature added to the cost of it a few years from now as well.  When the 135 miles of ‘white elephant’ the state was gifted with through a federal grant, we find ourselves with yet another increase in costs to maintain a high speed qualified rail. High speed, because apparently we cannot spend those state funds fast enough.   Because the discretionary ‘needs’ of the many in Southeast Michigan, to get to Chicago, outweighs the financial hardships of the few elsewhere in the state.

And costs will continue to climb as there is more demand.  And as the Troy Multi-modal boondoggle is completed, the wet paper towel that is our government’s fiscal policy is dampened further.

Troy’s former (now deposed by recall) mayor, Janice Daniels had it right all along.  The courage to stand up against short term gifts, that bring a legacy of  maintenance, versus a decision to not bathe the revered beast that will foul the finances for some time was worthy of note.

The low information voters had their day in the recall, but now they must bear the cost of nuts served in gilded bowls.

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