Letters to the Editor

Auburn doesn't need costly community center

Now that you've heard the sugar-coated story about this wonderful community center ("Community center draws closer to reality", Auburn Reporter, Feb. 7), perhaps it's time you learned a bit more of the truth of the story.

First, we were told that the community center would cost $7 million. Then it was $8 million. Now, it's $12 million. The estimate that the City's consultant gave several years ago was over $10 million.

The plan is to start construction by summer. Problem is, the City doesn't have $12 million. It does have about $6 million it can squeeze out of the City's coffers and a matching grant from the state for $3.5 million.

So we have a number of serious problems here. If we squeeze every extra penny from the City, it leaves us with no funds should emergencies arise. It's still not enough to build the center, so where do you think the rest will come from? There is no money set aside for cost overruns. Where do you think that will come from?

Also, the community center is projected to cost the City at the very least $150,000 a year to maintain it. Where do you think that money will come from? If you answered the "city residents" to any of the questions above, you're absolutely right.

But wait, there's more. The community center is really new offices for the Parks Department and some meeting rooms. Now, if we didn't have a senior center, a YMCA, Grace Community Church, plenty of space for the Parks Department plus a number of meeting places already available, it might be a good idea, assuming we could afford it.

Truth is, we don't need a community center right now. What we need is to get these roads fixed. Our new mayor said that roads were her priority. All we've heard from the past mayor and the council is "but there's no money for the roads." Well, isn't it just sad that we can't find a penny for the roads. But all of sudden, in the first few weeks as mayor, there's now millions of dollars available to build a community center?

Now you might think that our mayor and council, caring so much about its citizens' concerns and needs, might let the public vote on how we should best spend these new found funds. But no, that's never going to happen. Because they know if we actually had a say as to whether we should spend money, we don't have to build something we don't need while we continue to neglect what we do need, our answer would be a resounding no.

One more little fun fact: the City has already spent over a million dollars in consulting fees and architectural drawings. You know who paid for that? In the form of increased utilities. Utilities, I might add, that seem to be increasing at an alarming rate over the last few years.

At some point, fellow citizens, you're going to have to stand up and say enough. Until then, the mayor and council will continue to do whatever they want with your money. I'm just putting the information out to you. How you choose to utilize it is up to you.

My suggestion to you would be to email your councilmembers and ask them to disprove, on paper, anything contained in this letter.

– Mark Silberling

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