At the special meeting of the City Council on March 19, 2019, when Council considered whether to move forward on the purple pipe sewage recycle plant (aka “Golf Course Modernization Project”), Mayor Bailey abstained from the vote, citing concerns about the fiscal prudence of the project. In an email to a local reporter the following day, Mayor Bailey explained: “The staff report did not include enough financial information to feel comfortable proceeding. The staff report said taxpayers will be spending $1.75 million to save $800 thousand dollars annually with the gap gradually decreasing until we begin saving some money in 2036, but the financial projections did not continue much past 2036. I want to know what our actual payback period and return looks like before committing taxpayers to $25 million of debt.”
I couldn’t agree more.
So, I am calling upon you, Mayor Bailey, to please present the sewage plant to voters as an “advisory measure,” similar to Coronado’s Prop H (tunnel project) in 2010. You are a self-proclaimed fiscally conservative Republican as are many of your constituents. You owe them this consideration.
Many remember a similar situation a decade ago when the City of Coronado had spent over a million dollars studying a tunnel from the bridge to NASNI, and the City Council wisely decided to allow voters to weigh in on whether the City should continue spending more taxpayer money studying the tunnel that was projected to cost tens of millions of dollars of public funds. We now find ourselves in a similar scenario with the sewage plant. We have already spent about a million dollars studying the project, and we are about to spend much more on environmental reports (i.e., a mitigated negative declaration and/or full EIR). If a majority of Coronado residents don’t want a $25M sewage plant projected to operate at an annual deficit for decades, then it’s time to stop the bleeding by placing this project on the ballot this November.
Mayor Bailey, presenting the sewage plant to voters as an advisory measure is not only the right thing to do, it will also help your 2020 re-election campaign by presenting this very controversial and exorbitantly expensive project to your constituents for their feedback. Conversely, by failing to present the sewage plant to voters, our elected officials on Council appear to be pushing forward controversial and fiscally monumental projects (see also the City’s $40M+ Utility Undergrounding Master Plan) that a majority of their constituents may not support. This opens the door for residents to challenge the incumbents by running as candidates for Mayor/Council on a platform opposing the sewage plant, and the November 2020 election could easily come down to that single issue.
I am asking all fiscally conservative residents to join me in asking Mayor Bailey and the Council to present the sewage plant to voters as an advisory measure, because it is the right thing to do. As Martin Luther King Jr. famously said: “The time is always right to do what is right.”