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Merriam Community Center Grows From $25 million to $42 million:

What started out as a $25 million community center idea proposal by Merriam City staff to council is now looking like $42 million. We voted for $30 million. Then the city cut the size of the outdoor pool down to 1/3 the size of the old pool to make room for an unwanted unapproved by voters $6.5 million parking garage and library. Now the 5701 Merriam Drive committee (appointed by the mayor) is recommending $4 to $5 million be spent on the old community center. So we are now at $42 million which brings us to to $8100 per Merriam household. Will there be more surprises to get us up to $50 million?

City Hall Spin Fraud #1:
Mayor Sissom claims that the community center is on budget, but the budget slides.
Residents voted and approved the $30 million community center, the budget was $30 million. When Nancy Hupp past chair of the Johnson County Library board and Merriam City council member surprised everyone one that the Antioch library would like to move to the old swimming pool site, that meant more parking would be needed so a parking garage would have to be built. The budget slid from $30 million to $36.5. So now we are right on budget for $36.5 million but $6.5 million more than voter approved.

Now Staci Chivetta chair of the 5701 committee (old community center plans) announced that her committee was recommending that we spend $4 to $5 million on the old community center site. Let's see now. $36.5 million plus $5 million comes out to about $42 million. Again, voters approved a $30 million budget, not a $36.5 million budget and certainly not a $42 million budget.

They might say the old community center is a different budget, but it all came about because of the the new community center and it all comes out of the tax payer's pocket.

City Hall Spin Fraud #2:
It's ok to spend money that non residents paid to the city in taxes anyway city leaders decide. It's not ok. Once non resident sales taxes are paid to the city those taxes belong to the residents and the residents not the Mayor should decide how those taxes should be spent.

Let's be transparent, stick to the facts and tell residents that the old community center committee is going to recommend spending $3 to $5 million. The public needs to have the facts now, not after the council takes a vote and spends the resident's money. Should Sam Matier and John Cantebury be elected to the city council this lack of transparency and story spinning will end.
City Hall Spin Fraud #3: The parking garage had to be built because it would be used by the both library and community center. That is absolutely not true. The parking garage had to be built because city hall went behind the residents back and invited the library. There would not be enough parking for both the library and the community center without a parking garage. Without the library there would be no need for the parking garage.

Why do we know there no need for a parking garage? The city spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants to design a plan for the community center. That plan did not include a parking garage. Residents voted for a $30 million community center that did not need a $6 + million parking garage according to the plan produced by our consultants.

While it makes sense that a developer would want the current library site to develop the entire area, a few city leaders and staff are not being very transparent if they are having backroom discussion with developers without involving residents or even the people we elected to represent us. The same backroom discussions took place when the city staff surprised the council, committees and residents with an outdoor swimming pool less than 1/3 the size of the old pool. The fraud and lack of transparency will just continue until residents have the courage to just say STOP!


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