From Harford Campaign for Liberty:
Dear Harford Voter,
This May Harford’s County Council voted on 46 amendments to the FY 2016 County Budget – all unanimously passed in the course of two meetings, with little discussion.
One of the amendments added $50,000 to the Budget to construct a parking lot on the land the Center for the Arts has proposed to build its six-phase Arts Center. The Center for the Arts (CFA) wants a parking lot on the site so it can bring potential donors there to better imagine their grand vision.
Billy Boniface, the Director of Administration for our new County Executive, told the Council that Harford would not be on the hook for the $50 grand or for the maintenance of the lot. He assured the Council members the CFA would take care of everything.
When asked for the Memorandum of Understanding that detailed the parking lot agreement though, Boniface said the Memo wasn’t quite finished yet.
Almost three months later, the Memorandum between the County and the Center is still being drafted. Neither the Council nor YOU, the taxpayer, have seen what’s in the agreement.
In a classic Nancy Pelosi move, our Council voted on legislation they hadn’t yet read.
But the CFA is desperate to get something – anything – built on that land. If they don’t show progress on a facility to promote cultural arts by 2018, the Trustee of the Emily Bayless Graham Charitable Trust can revoke the County’s land grant.
If the CFA dissolves, what becomes of the promises in this missing Memorandum? Who will be responsible for maintaining this parking lot?
Does the County Council think the Center’s CEO will be out pouring blacktop every spring if this bloated venture goes belly up?
According to their recent Harford Tourism Grant application, the CFA was running a $63,000 loss for first quarter 2015. Although they hyped a profit of over $100,000 from last year’s Dancing with the Stars event, they still only showed $41,800 in the bank for FY2014’s end. And that’s after receiving a $50,000 grant in 2014 from the previous administration!
Folks, if you were on the County Council, you wouldn’t allow one tree felled on that land until you’d read every word of this Memorandum of Understanding.
If you were the Trustee of that land, reviewing progress every year on behalf of the Graham family, you’d be screaming “Forget about county grants, where’s the money you’re supposed to be raising?”
After ten years of existence, this group has nothing to show but an anemic checking account and an architect bill still in repayment?!
The Center has since scaled back their grand vision from a $60 million Mega Center to a $25 million “first phase”. They want us taxpayers to pony up $16 million in county and state grants to start.
But do they have THEIR $8 million in private donations in the bank and ready to go?
Until they can prove their portion is funded and this venture is profitable, Harford County’s elected officials shouldn’t allow one shovelful of dirt to be turned.
So Does Campaign for Liberty hate the Arts?!
Of course not.
We are hard-working moms and dads wanting to our children to have rich opportunities for ANY talents they may have.
We are small business owners who love our County and hope to see it thrive.
We are musicians, poets, writers, and painters who cherish our rights to free speech and expression.
But growth in Harford County, in any form, must not be linked with burdensome debt. We cannot be a great county by building with borrowed money and taking on swelling interest payments.
We cannot afford to take on projects that years later could cost us millions just to keep open.
Ask your neighbors if they can afford an increase in property and income taxes so that Harford can build a museum, multiple theaters, and space for business conferences.
Many people around this great county are now living paycheck to paycheck. Should they be forced to fund an Arts Center that’s forecast to operate in the negative as soon as it opens?
Tell the County Council NO MORE WASTEFUL SPENDING.
Harford Campaign for Liberty has had an overwhelming reply to our petition against funding this Mega-Plex, and we intend to hand-deliver each individual response to the County Council when they reconvene in September.
BUT WE STILL NEED YOU TO MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD.
SIGN the petition, and let your Council Member know how you feel about this wasteful spending. The form has space for comments, if you want to send a personal message to your representative.
Politicians react to two things – campaign donations, and ANGRY VOTERS.
If our Council members want to be re-elected, they need to REGARD THE ANGER this Center has caused – and then VOTE DOWN any more taxpayer funding of the CFA.
Please sign the petition, and forward your friends and neighbors this email.
Together, we CAN make a difference in this county’s future.
Steering Committee Member
Harford Campaign for Liberty
P.S. If you haven’t signed the petition to reject public funding for the CFA, please take two minutes to click and add your voice to the outcry against wasteful spending.