Last Tuesday, the Newport Council voted to $8.3m of taxpayer money in construction costs for a single building, made to house a library and firestation in CdM which are both already built and functioning. The fire station is being rebuilt because fire trucks have grown in size over the last 50 years and can no longer fit in the parking structure, so they have to park it outside.
The library is being built alongside the station, and rumors state that it is only a matter of time before it closes and is absorbed by the newly-adjoined fire station. The CdM fire station– located right next to PCH near the CdM library at 420 Marigold– is set to be temporarily relocated to the Oasis center until construction is finished. The library has no temporary home, and taxpayers in the area are being directed to use the library at City Hall for their reading and research, instead.
Councilmembers– who also recently voted to buy the former McDonalds building on Balboa Peninsula for over $4m when it sold a year prior for less than $2m– voted to build this $8m+ building (where we already own the land) by using a fund known as the “Facilities Financing Program“, which hoards money by demanding tribute payments t̶o̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ to the City of Newport from people seeking to build on their own property which they already own.
These taxes are known as “Developer Fees”, but they are not a “fee” according to the California State Constitution: They are a tax. Payments coming directly from the General Fund are also used, and those are comprised of sales tax, parking taxes, and property taxes throughout the city. (Side note: While wildly popular amongst people unopposed to government waste, these so-called Developer “Fees” are actually illegal to charge according to state law)
To be fair, there are special regulations on fire stations which make them cost more per square foot than virtually any other building (except medical buildings)– however, the idea that Council should be expanding this building range by commandeering a library for inclusion on this same building is indicative of how much council tends to care about how your taxpayer money is given to their friends in the construction companies set to receive this financial windfall. Some people remember when they tried to combine the library on Balboa Peninsula with the adjacent fire station and turn it into an “e-library”, and one might wonder whether or not this is merely a stepping stone to eliminate the CdM library completely. Given the fact that they are liquidating as many books as possible from the CdM library and that there is no new alternative place where this will be held, this seems like a suspect move, to many (the city claims that the “alternate location” is an existing library, but the “alternate location” for the firestation is not an existing fire station).
Think this kind of spending is reprehensible for a city with a $1.2b exit fee for our pension liabilities that nobody has even bothered to fund, or a city with a quarter-billion-dollar bill due for the construction fees alone of the new City Hall, or a city that spent $270k for a an unwanted eyesore of a “Welcome to Balboa” sign? Write your councilmembers at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them to be more fiscally responsible with the money you earned which they have taken from you.