To the editor:
I’ve noticed the controversy surrounding plans for a new city hall for Manzanita. I like to discover facts for myself, so I’ve attended a couple meetings, visited the current city hall, and taken a good look at my property tax statement.
The city council and staff provided credible answers to my questions about costs, the Underhill property appraisal, and why they believe a new building is the best approach. I think planning a building to accommodate city needs for 50 years is smart. A new property appraisal may have produced a different number, but the true appraisal is what someone will pay, and a developer was willing to pay more. Finally, I agree that demolishing the current building is a smart thing to do. I did read the structural engineering report, and that building really is falling apart.
Next, I wanted to see whether we really need this new building, so I visited city hall and asked for a tour. I wouldn’t want to work there either. It’s a cramped old remodeled gas station. It’s not big enough for the staff, won’t accommodate growth, provides no confidentiality where needed, and has the ugliest restroom ever. And visible black mold. I think we can all agree that new digs are needed.
Now, I think Manzanita is a pretty well run little city, and I wondered what city services cost me. We recently remodeled and added on, so we were graced with an updated assessment of over $550,000. Our property taxes directly for Manzanita are $235 per year, which is on the high end. For only $235 a year I get:
·An accessible, competent, and friendly police force.
·A public works department that delivered gravel to the front of my home when street water threatened it and then put in two storm drains free of charge.
·A city-supported planning commission that protects our village character.
·A water system that provides vastly better-tasting water than it did 5 years ago.
·Nicely paved streets.
·A well-managed short-term rental system that doesn’t overwhelm the town.
Under the current estimate of a $6.5 million bond issue, my tax bill could go up as much as $275 per year. Am I willing to fork over $275 annually so that the 15 people who keep our little city humming have a decent place to work? Considering that the space will also provide a community meeting hall and emergency communications hub, I think $275 is a bargain. It’s not pocket change, but most people will pay considerably less.
I am an enthusiastic YES for the new city hall bond measure. I hope other residents will see the wisdom of planning ahead, keeping our city employees happy, and giving Manzanita a signature building that will serve residents, second home owners, and tourists for many a year.