- There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
- There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, a hole.
- Then fix it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
- Then fix it, dear Henry, dear Henry, fix it.
The drama of the reveal was breathtaking! What would the fourth down payment on our fantasy trip to a renewed capital plant look like? A lot like the last three is the answer. True, there are a few lucky communities with replacement, neighborhood-scale schools and there's the laundry list of other items that seemed to touch every school in the district.
Wow! Not ...
Besides Nancy Jester's brave 'no' vote, the only part of the entire proceeding that stuck in my head was a pesky image of a bucket full of holes like the one above. The "capital needs" were described as "$3 billion" and the SPLOST IV revenue target of $475 million. I thought, "Wow, that leaves $2.5 billion in unmet needs."
Then I remembered what we had been told by DCSS in past years whenever I asked where Cross Keys' auditorium was in plan: "Kim, we have over $2 billion in needs and only $500 million in SPLOST dollars - no one is getting everything they need and we are spreading it thin." Putting aside the fact that many are, in fact, getting "everything they need," I have been surprised that no one seems to be noticing the SPLOST death spiral we are in as taxpayers.
There are a lot of holes in our capital bucket and the money is running out those holes faster than we can fix them apparently. What are the holes? Too many schools and sites to maintain - way too many properties.
Let me over-simplify this so I can understand it ...
Five or six years ago we had $2 billion in needs. In the ensuing five years, we spent $500 million against this need. This should leave somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion in need, right? Not according to DCSS this week.
The current line is that we now have $3 billion in identified needs and $475 million to spend in SPLOST IV. What?! Our need more than doubled from $1.5 billion? What's going to happen in SPLOST V? We'll spend $500 million in SPLOST IV against the $3 billion in need leaving $2.5 billion which, if the next period is like the last period, will double to $5 billion in need??
Is our leadership blind or irresponsible or both? That this kind of dynamic can be allowed to persist without addressing the fundamental issue is a massive failure of fiduciary responsibility.
SPLOST has become for taxpayers like one of my favorite movies, "Ground Hog Day," where the protagonist is trapped in the same day over and over again. He says, "Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today." That is how I feel about the current "2020 Vision" and SPLOST IV - there is no tomorrow in these plans today.
When will the madness stop? Unlike for Bill Murray's character, I am afraid not soon for DeKalb taxpayers, not soon ...