Is the Red Plan going to boost Duluth's economy? Yes and No
Are the right people paying the price? NO!
On Monday, June 1st, 2009 the Duluth Chamber of Commerce (after a year of embarrassed silence on the Red Plan) has been prodded to re-embrace it. They paid for a study which discovered the multiplier effect. If you spend a buck it becomes a buck fifty as other people spend the money you've spent.
Surprise, surprise, that's what the sophisticated economic software discovered will happen when Duluth spends $293 million on the Red Plan.
But as the study's author quickly agreed. This tells us nothing else. Will our schools be better? Are the right people footing the bill. Could the multiplier effect be reversed by negative consequences of the much panned Red Plan.
Let Duluth Vote prepared a brief analysis of its own suggesting that the Red Plan may cause long term harm to the economy. The Chamber did not want it to be passed out but a few people picked up copies as they left the meeting. There were a lot of architects, contractors and JCI suits at this luncheon.
This is the Let Duluth Vote
Supporters and opponents of the Red Plan both want Duluth’s Public Schools to be the best in
Clearly some people will benefit from spending $300 million at least in the short term Let Duluth Vote would like the BBER to address these following questions.
THE INDIRECT ECONOMIC DAMAGE OF A FLAWED
If the completion of the Red Plan results in a damaged school system with lost programs, students and the revenue that follows them and new maintenance expenses for schools that are suffering from unanticipated out-migration how will the damage to the reputation of the Duluth schools affect local business and efforts to attract new business to Duluth and the local economy?
Would a short term economic benefit outweigh long term economic problems?
Because the Red Plan will transfer wealth away from residents who live on fixed incomes several questions are in order.
Unlike the Federal Stimulus Plan which is based on
progressive income taxes and on the Federal Government’s ability to mint money
the Red Plan will be paid for by regressive property taxes. Even now many
The precipitous growth in property taxes, the 56% increase
Considering this, what economic benefits can property tax payers expect from the Red Plan and the additional tax increases its completion will require?
Does Chamber of Commerce’s BBER study take into account
the negative impacts on different
Has the BBER study analyzed the costs will be imposed on
COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH RAMPANT OUT MIGRATION OF STUDENTS
It has become apparent that a major out migration of
This will also have the ironic result of leaving
Has the BBER study investigated this out-migration and would it predict that the new school buildings will have countervailing benefits?
Does the BBER study take this into account?
LOCAL REVENUE TRANSFERRED OUT OF STATE
*In a letter to the District the current project manager
Johnson Controls indicated that the usual costs for construction management were
in the neighborhood of 12.8% but that they estimated their charges would be18.8%
or six percent greater. Would it not be prudent for
No transportation study was completed before the construction of the Red Plan. However the School Administration estimated that annual increased fuel costs for bussing more students longer distances to school could match or exceed $400,000 dollars. As fuel prices face further increases so to will this annual drain of the school operations budget.
Similarly Johnson Controls and the School Administration
have denied the existence of any data having to do with the existing air quality
of our schools. Yet almost a third of the Red Plan’s costs are being spent to
address air quality. Much of this cost comes in the form of energy intensive air
conditioning the use of which will drive up energy costs to operate
Did the BBER analyze the affect of increased energy usage in the Duluth Schools?
There is currently a significant uproar over the
environmental consequences of placing a high school on the Ordean site. The new
plans for Ordean have set it on a smaller site than originally planned and added
new structures which will tax the neighborhood. Impervious surfaces have been
greatly expanded and will compromise runoff into
Among the extraordinary costs at Ordean to compensate for its substandard size are a 25 foot excavation, 115,000 cubic yards of fill (the equivalent of 11,500 trucks), nearly a thousand feet of retaining walls, underground water retaining chambers and the purchase of off-site properties to build parking spaces which will still be insufficient and lead to unsafe crossing at busy through streets
Has the BBER analyzed long term environmental costs of the Red Plan?
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Mr. Digby who has helped prepare the BBER Red Plan economic study also was recently appointed to the Duluth Planning Commission. That commission will meet on June 18th to vote on whether to require an Environmental Impact Study on the Ordean site.
Will Mr. Digby recuse himself from that vote?
OUT MIGRATION OF
Roughly 70% of the
The following figures show the financial situation the
Fiscal Year end………..ISD 709 reserves
This year’s open enrollment figures for
But the loss to the Duluth Schools does not end here. Calls to three surrounding school districts shows that an additional 80 students will be added to the Hermantown, Proctor and Wrenshall school’s next year. Hermantown also has a waiting list.
While any student leaving the
This graphic from the Duluth News Tribune shows
There have been other losses to the
It is conceivable that by next year close to 10 % of