By Donna Westfall – August 24, 2016 –
As I was walking past “Sleezy Joe’s Used Car Lot” I happened to come upon this conversation:
Sleezy Joe – Hey buddy step over here for a moment, have I got a deal for you! I have this “like new” car over here that regularly sells for $25,000 but today only it is going for just $1,250. With nothing down your payments can be real low for just 40 years. How about it. Remember, you have to sign the contract today only.
Customer – I love the deal but I don’t think I can make the payments. I’m unemployed and have no prospects of getting a job soon.
Sleezy Joe – Don’t worry about it. You can apply for a number of grants and who knows, some of them might even come through. So not to worry. Here, sign on the dotted line for this today only deal.
If you think this is a crazy deal, well you are right. Some people would say it’s like buying a pig in a poke or some other just as visual term. The fact is that the county has just signed on to such a deal with regards to the airport terminal.
As you may recall, in May Supervisor Finigan held a ground breaking ceremony for Phase 1 of the construction of the airport terminal building. All of the partner organizations were there to celebrate this event that had been on the radar screen since the year 2000. Unfortunately we now learn that there was no funding from the Boarder Coast Regional Airport Authority (BCRAA) partners for Phase 2. None of the partners located north of the boarder have come through with any funds to actually build the terminal.
Now the County of Del Norte is on the hook to provide the matching funds to the tune of $2.8 million to match the $17 million that the federal government is providing. So the county will be paying $130,000 per year over the 40 year period of the loan or $5.2 million on a $2.8 million loan.
Does this sound similar to the Wastewater Treatment Plant fiasco that put our sewer ratepayers on the hook for a $44 million loan that went into default in three years? And, the City wants about $35 million more for Phase 2.
At this weeks Board of Supervisors meeting the county voted to take $2.8 million from the county’s Mitigation Fund, loan it to the BCRAA so that they can make loan payments over 40 years. In order to pay back the loan, the county proposes to apply for loans and grants.
Ha! Do you believe that’s going to happen?
This is a 40 year obligation whether we have continued air service or not. Continued air service over the lifespan of the loan is a very dubious bet. Here’s why. PenAir, the airline that has 2 flights a day and about 60 customers is the same PenAir that services Crescent City receives a heavy subsidy from the federal government under the Essential Air Service (EAS) contract, yet every year the Congress threatens to end EAS.
According to Congressman Tom McClintock, “The fact of the matter is the amount of money this program is costing us has doubled in four years,”
He along with several of those in Congress have been trying to end this problem for the last 5 years.
“I view this as the canary in the coal mine. If we can’t cut this, perhaps the least essential of all government subsidies, how are we ever going to get spending under control?” McClintock said.
If and when EAS goes away, our air carrier will also have to leave because it will no longer receive a subsidy. The bottom line is that we will be obligated for a 40 year loan for a beautiful airport terminal building, but with no air service. Supervisor Gitlin was the only one to vote NO on this proposal saying “It’s just too risky for common sense.”
We tend to agree.
Here is the list of Supervisors that have no common sense, money sense, economic sense and are jeopardizing our community and our taxpayers:
The only way this makes any sense is if suddenly the County of Del Norte becomes partners with drug runners and gun runners and legalize their income to pay back the loan. What are the odds?
We need a new airport terminal like we need a hole in our heads.