I would venture to guess that most of our residents are not familiar with the Red Gate Farm on Leffingwell Road and the finances associated with it.
The city originally purchased the farm (288 acres) in 2003 for $2,307,632.52, of which $1.3 million was borrowed and $1 million came out of the city treasury. ($2.3 million represents 25 percent of any single years budget.)
As of the end of November 2012, we still owe $904,625.92. We have paid $467,720.63 in interest and only $395,374.16 on principal.
For the single year of 2012, the city paid $135,695.21 in interest, principal, taxes, insurance and maintenance. However, there is some income: land lease, rental income,
and gas lease income totaled $36,483.21.
The bottom line is the Red Gate Farm drains about $100,000.00 from the city treasury every year and will continue to do so for several more years. But, I am told we do not have money to address some of the flooding issues.
Now, the current regime played no part in the purchase of this land, but the ball is in their court. There is no foreseeable use for this land nor is there much demand for it. The citys population decreased from 2000 to 2010 per census figures. There are no water and sewage connections to it. The probability of recouping our investment looks slim. Is anything being done?
Overall, in my opinion, this purchase was a mistake. Should council/city manager have the authority to make such a large purchase without approval of the residents who will pay the bill?
I believe we need better controls on such expenditures. How about a cap on the amount council can spend on any single expenditure (excluding grants and payroll budget) without voter approval?
Frank A. Micchia,