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Reader questions Newport City Council decision for $1.6 million loan

Published: 8:16 PM, 12/07/2012

Source: The Newport Plain Talk

Dear Editor,


If the Newport City Council was scheduled to have a regular meeting on the second Tuesday of November when all members were present, and if the agenda for that meeting was very short, why was it necessary for a "called" meeting of the council be scheduled for Monday, November 19 (six days later) when only three members were there? What was the urgency in securing council approval for a $1.6 million load? Why could the mater not be discussed on the 13th or scheduled for the next regular meeting in December? Why has there been no public discussion in regular council meetings?

According to a notice in the Sunday, November 25 Newport Plain Talk, city residents have 20 days to "protest" the resolution. Guess what, folks? Unless ten-percent of the registered voters in the city have filed a petition within that time framework, the "Loan agreement will be executed as proposed." And those 20 days expire on Sunday, December 9. By the time the council meets again, that stipulation would suggest there's nothing the taxpayers can do to change anything, but we sure can ask a lot of questions after the fact.

Why, if a city ordinance requires two public readings and a public hearing, can taxpayers become indebted for $1.6 million from an unscheduled meeting and the general public not have a clue to what's going on? What did the city planners recommend for downtown development? What did the library board request for library expansion? What did Mr. Dykes' group offer as suggestions for funding and grants for the Tanner Building? What suggestions have state planners offered? Who developed "Vision 2020?" Does council have any authority over how much and when the money is borrowed or will this fund a shopping spree for the city manager?

We hear almost daily about governmental entities across the nation that declare bankruptcy. The unbridled spending in Washington continues to depress this economy. My county taxes increased a significant amount this year, and the county continues to face the possibility of substantial expense as they address the issues with the jail and the courthouse. As the city resolved the annexation lawsuits and, if the city decision is upheld by the courts, as part of the plan of service required by the annexation, the city may be required to build and equip police and fire substations in the newly annexed areas. Where will that money come from? I'm not sure the city can immediately start collecting city taxes from the newly annexed areas.

It would appear this $1.6 million loan is a done deal, but if others share my questions and concerns, I hope they will make an appeal to the members of city council to "rethink" this loan. Going into the real estate business and "making pretty" now may not be the best plan for the City of Newport.


Joan S. Lambert

Editor's Note: When contacted by the Newport Plain Talk on Friday for a response to Lambert's letter, Newport City Manager Scott Collins said he was "unavailable for comment."

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