Promises to fix ailing sewers vs. fears of a developer subsidy
COLUMBIA, Mo 11/4/13 (Beat Byte) -- Kee Groshong
(left) has been selling sewer bonds to Columbia voters for at least 16 years.
Back when Groshong was an MU Vice Chancellor, he chaired a committee that promised to use nearly one-third of an $18.5 million bond -- $5.5 million -- to repair and replace old sewers
That was in 1997 -- 16 years ago.
Groshong is back again selling this year's $32.3 million sewer bond, appointed to a committee by Mayor Bob McDavid in September
Columbia residents have been passing sewer bonds every five years or so
for as long as many people can remember. To sell the bonds, city officials always promise to fix existing sewers.
But that promise is long in the tooth
. Failing sewers have been a problem in Columbia since before the Second World War, when segregated central city neighborhoods drained sewage into local creeks.
Meanwhile, bond funds seem to end up in outlying new subdivisions built by developers with names like Pugh, Sapp, Atkins, Wolverton, Lindner, and now Odle, the student apartment kings who bought the failed Dicovery Ridge project
and plan hundreds more apartments.
They're already planning a TDD for a taxpayer subsidy
Worries developers will run off with sewer bond proceeds date back decades, too. Here's a sample of those worries from 2003, when Columbia passed an $18 million sewer bond
on the same old promise that City Hall would fix existing sewers. Click the link for the story:
So with all these years of sewer bonds to replace and repair existing sewer systems, why isn't the job finally done? It's an important question voters should ask themselves Tuesday. Through higher rates, they will be paying the bills regardless what happens with the money.