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River Cities' Reader - Issue #771 - February 3, 2011

River Cities' Reader - Issue #771 - February 3, 2011

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Published by: River Cities Reader on Feb 03, 2011
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     R     i    v    e    r     C     i     t     i    e    s     ’     R    e    a     d    e    r
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--- __L__---------------____ __ _I_ ____ __ _I_
 B   u  s  i     e  s   s  • P   o l    i     t   i     c   s  • A  r   t    s  •  C   u l     t    u r   e • N   o w Y   o  u K   o w • R  i     e r   C  i     t   i     e  s  R   e  a  d   e r   . c   o m
R  i     e  r   C   i     t   i     e   s  ’    R   e   a  d    e  r  
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Continued On Page 9
dispatching system – at a raction o the cost.Instead, we got something entirely dierent,without the knowledge – let alone the consent– o the public.Our supervisors indebted us by bondingor $14 million in equipment costs (includinginterest, but not including the $3-million bond orthe GIS) or 20 years, even though the equipmenthas an estimated lie o seven years at worst, 10years at best. So we will be paying or equipmentor at least 10 years beyond its useul lie.Obviously, we will need to purchase replacementequipment along the way, and odds are high itwill be more costly in the uture. No problem,because there is a “no-cap tax levy” available topay or it.Te consolidation study called or a rst-year capital outlay o $4 million or equipment,not counting the radios (whose omission ishighly suspect when doing a study or dispatchconsolidation). Te county instead bonded orit, along with the $7-million radio purchase(estimated rom a separate 2007 radio study) or20 years.Interestingly, however, there is no accountingin the consolidation study or the $7-million-radio-equipment expense, only the $4 million orall other equipment in the rst year’s equipmentexpenses, even though the equipment bondincluded both radio and other equipment capital
New SECC Means Emergenc r Sctt Cunt Taxpaers
by Kathleen McCarthykm@rcreader.com
or the past decade, taxpayers have elthelpless while Congress, along with thehost o bureaucrats behind the scenes,spends our tax dollars like drunken sailors. Well,we may not be able to eect the change we desireat the ederal level, but we absolutely can createsuch change here at home, at the city and county levels.Since 2007, the creation, via Iowa Code28E (new legislation that allows the ormationo intergovernmental agreements to includeemergency-management projects that cede jurisdictional authority to a newly createdbody), o the Scott Emergency CommunicationsCenter (SECC) has ballooned into a massivenew expenditure on the backs o Scott County taxpayers.Trough a series o ever-intrusive policies,including burgeoning agency authority inthe newly established SECC board that isautonomous o county supervisory oversight, anda “no-cap tax levy” as an ongoing and mandatory means to pay or the acility, including its buildingand operations, the SECC is scheduled to openor business in late March 2011.SECC began as a proposal to consolidatethe area’s emergency-dispatch system underone umbrella operation, promising to savetaxpayers $4.6 million over 20 years. In truth,not only is there no savings, but it will costScott County taxpayers $7 million annually, uprom the $4 million per year it would have costi we had ollowed Virginia consultant CACommunications’ “Scott County Emergency Responders Consolidation” study we paid$103,000 or in 2006.What was supposed to be the consolidationo a specic service – emergency dispatching– occupying 6,000 square eet at a cost o $2million plus another $4 million to equip it hasmorphed into a monstrous 28,000-square-ootacility, costing us $14 million or the buildingand other improvements, and another $14 millionor equipment, plus an additional $3 million orthe GIS that provides mapping or emergency management.Tere is no possible justication or the sheermagnitude o a acility such as this serving acounty population o 166,650 in 2009 (up rom158,668 in 2000). Which begs the question: Why?My prediction is that this is one o a string o such acilities that will dot the heartland – ederalFusion Centers – established on the backs o taxpayers in county jurisdictions. In other words,county taxes are paying the lion’s share o a ederalacility under the authority o the Department o Homeland Security.And even though Scott County has receivedapproximately $6.2 million in ederal and stategrants, the cost to taxpayers in qualiying or thesepublic unds has been egregious. We ultimately will have spent $31 million to attract $6.2million in grant unds or SECC . Tis is scalincompetence, especially under current economicconditions. Te new SECC now represents thesecond-largest budget item in the county budget.In 2007, at the time the SECC projectwas voted on by Davenport and Bettendor city councils and the Scott County Board o Supervisors, the public was told the levy wouldbe 53 cents per $1,000. Now, in 2011, the rate isactually 90 cents per $1,000! And this is a “no-captax levy”! Tis is only the beginning, olks. Tenew legislative authority or this levy is oundin 29C o the Iowa Code. You can bet this newtaxing ability will be implemented whenever andwherever possible.In the case o SECC, all three bodies cededauthority or all expenditures to the SECC board,which has the newly created authority to spend itsbudget without oversight by those we elected todo just that. In other words, the two city councilsand county board completely abdicated theirduciary responsibility in this extremely criticalmatter by giving SECC
carte blanche
.Consider that the county’s own commissionedstudy, which under the intergovernmentalagreement that ormed SECC dictated that it beollowed or implementing any dispatch-system-consolidation plan, was partially abandoned inpractice along the way. Te study showed thatwe could have spent $3 million and gotten thesame level o service – a unctioning integrated-

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