Today's editorial in the Lincoln Journal Star makes a good point: Lincoln stands to lose if it annexes State Fair Park solely for the purpose of imposing the city's sales tax on the property. How much Lincoln will lose -- and whether those losses are greater than or less than potential gains -- is debateable. Clearly, though, annexation solely for taxation is lame. It is desperate.
The editorial raises an issue that I have harped on before: Lincoln is desperate for cash. In this case the amount is $200,000 annually. The city's (proposed) solution? Annoy the state's citizens and leaders. That hardly seems a sustainable or sensible solution. For other (relatively) small cash needs the city has resorted, fairly successfully, to begging. Begging funded the Sunken Gardens renovation, and begging is fueling the Lincoln Cares program. Begging may be uncouth, but it has worked. But again, begging is unsustainable. Beggars are eventually brushed aside.
Nor will begging fund Lincoln's larger, and more pressing, needs. Infrastructure improvements, the South and East Beltways, the Antelope Valley Project, and Downtown revitalization efforts will cost billions of dollars in public and private funds. (The first stage of the Antelope Valley Project alone is projected to require a $1 billion investment, including $240 million in public funds.) Where will that money come from? Do Lincolnites and Lincoln have those resources above and beyond the status quo?
Not a single Lincolnite has stepped forward with a solid, sustainable, and promising plan to address the discreprency between Lincoln's needs (solid infrastructure, good schools) and Lincoln's wants (a pretty creek bed, a Downtown park). Certainly Lincoln's leaders [sic] have done little to quell Lincolnites' unease
about the future. I don't have a solution, and therefore I urge restraint and fiscal responsibility. Lincoln's civic leaders [sic] don't have a solution, and yet they are pushing forward with obstinance and unsupported confidence. If I'm proven wrong I will have been guilty of being overly cautious. If the city council, Mayor Seng, et al. are wrong, they will have robbed Lincolnites of hundreds of millions of dollars pursuing fanciful dreams only loosely linked to reality.
I hope their dreams come true. I really do. But to date they have given me little reason to join in their merry crusade.