On Wednesday I posted two items on Unfair Park about a fairly hefty new sum being charged to the City of Dallas for the design of the Trinity River toll road. You know the story. Mayor Tom Leppert ran for office by promising Dallas would never have to pay another nickel. The Dallas Morning News knew better but suppressed the story until the day after the votes were counted in the toll road referendum.
Now the chickens are coming home to Capistrano. As an astute Friend of Unfair Park pointed out, if the design cost alone for the road is going up $1.54 million, the total cost of building the thing is through the roof.
But City Hall, of course, insists it’s not true. With logic so tortured that even Dick Cheney might not approve it, the city is insisting that the new additional $1.54 million is not new or additional. On Thursday, Frank Librio, the city’s director of public information, sent me the following e-mail:
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Jim, Chris Heinbaugh informed me you were looking for some clarification on this -- hope this helps, Frank.
Last week the City Council approved a supplemental agreement for the $1.5 million for NTTA to allow an increase in their contract with Halff & Associates.
The funds came from the City's $84 million and DID NOT increase the City's obligation to them. The City's financial commitment will not increase. Any increase in cost -- due to fluctuations in material costs -- will not be the financial responsibility of the City and its taxpayers.
I replied as follows:
Thanks for your help, but you surely must see that your response flies in the face of reason: The city, through the 1998 bond program, pledged $84 million to the Trinity toll road, all of which has been fully budgeted. If it were not fully budgeted, there would be no need for the city to approve an additional amount.
The only way the additional $1.54 million can come out of the $84 million is for $1.54 million to be withdrawn or de-funded from some other already budgeted $84 million portion of the overall program.
Look at it this way. The road costs $100. The city puts in $10. Now the city is being asked to put in an addition $1.54. Frank, even by Mayor Leppert's arithmetic, that's going to come out to $11.54. Not $10. Or are we not in Kansas any more?
Please help me re-orient myself.
Sometimes my job causes a certain kind of light-headedness. Not the pleasant kind. --Jim Schutze