City Sets No Limit on Measure N Tax Bite
(Note: ORPN presents without comment excerpts from this press report. Title is ours.)
By Robert Lewis, North Gate News, October 17, 2006
Opponents like Charles Pine, co-founder of Oakland Residents for Peaceful Neighborhoods, a grass-roots activism group, say there are more important uses of taxpayer money in a city that has seen a startling number of homicides this year.
"Oakland has a lot of problems. We have half a police department," Pine said.
The city's plan to move the main library into the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center Arena, which was an entertainment venue until early this year, will cost too much money, Pine added. In July the city council approved using the building for the library.
The city should spend more on the branch libraries, which are easily accessible to kids and residents, and less on the main, which has an estimated price tag of $95 million, Pine said.
"It isn't going to do much good to have a nice attraction if it's in the middle of a crime zone," he added.
The main library is expensive because it is a retrofit as opposed to new construction, said Gene Tom, the public libraries' chief financial officer.
"We're not trying to build a Taj Mahal," he said of the main library, which would house a theater, café and have wireless Internet access.
The city would levy property taxes to repay the $148 million in bonds over time. The measure could cost property owners $39.60 per $100,000 of assessed value, according to information from the library. That figure, however, is an estimate, Tom acknowledged.
There is no way to know how much the bonds will cost until the city issues the debt.
"Interest rates go up; they go down," Tom said. "Anything could happen tomorrow."
Tom did not know what factors officials considered to arrive at the $39.60 per $100,000 of assessed value estimate. Several analysts in the city administrator's office were also unable to offer details as to where that number came from.
– Oct. 17, 2006