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Don't ride Motown horse too long

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

Vandalia’s city administrator last Tuesday night rolled out a number of budget cuts that he was proposing in light of shrinking surpluses and decreasing revenues.

With that in mind, we hope that the city council takes a long, hard look at the request for an extension being requested for the proposed $300-million sports and entertainment complex.

While we understand that Vandalia, like all other communities, is hungry for jobs and development to boost the local economy, we also see the city paying out funds for the project proposed by Motown Technology and Sports Facility Inc.

Thus far, the city has paid $17,500 for a traffic study and more than $50,000 in legal fees for the project. Motown officials have told the city they will present a check for the traffic study when they come to town on Monday. And, city officials point out, Motown has pledged in its contract to reimburse the city up to $250,000 for any legal fees it incurs, if the project becomes a reality.

The expenses incurred to date may seem somewhat insignificant, but the totals take on a different perspective when you consider the types and amounts of budget cuts the city is contemplating.

Also to be considered, we believe, is Motown’s history. It has been proposing this type of project for several years now, without any successes to report. Also out there, is the fact that Motown also failed to provide proof of financing this summer for a similar project in Clark County, Ky.

That history is one of the reasons that many local residents are skeptical about the project in Vandalia.

City officials have pointed out that the project is still worth looking at, because it’s not costing the city any more money at this time.

They also have to consider that if the project continues for some time and then fails, the probability of getting reimburses for any expenses it incurs is minimal.

If this happens, the city may be in a position where it looks at more budget cuts, which could include staff cuts or furloughs, or reductions in services offered to residents. Those considerations could also include increases in city fees, water and sewer rates or taxes.

Of course, we have to wait to see what Motown officials say when they appear before the city council on Monday.

But, after hearing that presentation, we hope that our city’s aldermen do some serious thinking before voting to proceed with this project.

rb