ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER EDITORIAL REVEALS TRUE COST OF NEWPORT’S TAJ MAHAL – $228.6 MILLION!
Will Dock Tax funds be used to pay down debt?
Over the past year our city council has raised taxes on Harbor businesses and residents. Mooring owners were hit with a 300% hike, commercial marina operators took a 366% hit, and last month residential dock owners were crushed with an average 700% Dock Tax levy (some will pay as much as $5000 per year).
The December 11, 2012 special city council meeting to levy the Dock Tax was hastily set at the old city hall building on Newport Blvd. Upon adjourning, the politicians scurried over to the new Taj Mahal in Newport Center to christen the building at Councilman Rosansky’s last meeting.
When residents stop paying attention the bureaucrats and politicians lose their way and create long-term financial obligations like the Taj Mahal. We are now stuck with $228.6 million in debt payments for a building that 95% of Newport’s residents will never set foot in.
We are told the wave of Harbor tax increases will generate $4.5 million per year. In 2012 the payments for the Taj Mahal began — $8 million per year for 30 years. The Taj will cost every Newport resident $2,700 – and the land was free.
In my opinion the Dock Tax and other Harbor tax hikes will never be used to pay for Harbor improvements – as tidelands law requires. An accounting shell game will be created whereby the Harbor taxes end up funding the black hole of city government; salaries, benefits, retirement packages, and Taj Mahal payments.
We will continue to fight the bloat and excess of Newport’s government because once government gets into your pocket, they never go away.
Stop The Dock Tax
www.stopthedocktax.com Please check with our web site for the lastest information
Editorial: Newport’s edifice complex
Newport Beach recently took the wraps off its new City Hall. Almost immediately, critics dubbed it a “Taj Mahal,” notwithstanding that its modernist architecture brings to mind the city halls of such locales as San Jose, Seattle and Austin, Texas.
But Newport Beach City Hall is not being likened to Taj Mahal because of its appearance. Rather because disgruntled residents think the $131.4 million price tag excessive even for the affluent coastal community.
It doesn’t help matters for defenders of the edifice that, little more than a year before its informal opening last month, (the big reveal actually is slated for May), neighboring Laguna Niguel celebrated the opening of its new City Hall, which cost taxpayers there a mere $30 million, including land.
We do believe that $131.4 million would have been an exorbitant sum to spend strictly for a city building, no matter how well-heeled the community’s taxpaying residents.
But Newport built an entire Civic Center complex. It includes Council chambers, a 98,000-square-foot office building housing city staff, a 17,000-square-foot library extension, a 450-car garage, a 16-acre park with a civic green and, for good measure, some 1.23 miles of walking trails and a dog park.
What troubles us about the new complex is how the city went about its financing. The City Council decided not to put the matter before voters, as they did with respect to selecting the location. Instead, the $131.4 million project was financed almost entirely by Certificates of Participation, without voter approval. When all is said and done, the total cost of the Civic Center complex, including debt service over 30 years, will be $228.6 million.
Had Newport voters a say in the financing of the project, had they approved bonds or other means of financing (as the voters approved Measure B in 2008, which approved the Civic Center’s site), the City Council would have insulated itself against the blowback it is now receiving.
That should be a lesson to the city’s elected officials the next time they undertake a project that costs anywhere near as much as Newport’s new Civic Center complex.