Saying that Mayor Kleis made a major mistake in selling city park land to Costco is understatement. The city councilmembers who voted to approve the sale should be terminated the next time they’re up for re-election. Ditto with Kleis. George Hontos’ op-ed explains things perfectly.

Hontos writes “First, the sale of 18.56 acres of city park land for Costco for $3.5 million was a give away that the mayor could have prevented. The city had an independent professional appraiser determine the land had a value of over $5 million. Back in Jan. 2018, before any purchase agreement was signed with Costco, a local developer offered the city $6.5 million, but the Mayor rejected this offer, saying it was too late in the process.”

Mayor Kleis isn’t the only person who should get criticized. Later, Hontos wrote “There was nothing stopping the Mayor from calling for a bidding process. Just as disappointing were the actions of my cohorts on the city council, there was nothing stopping them from voting the Costco offer down and calling for a bidding process. But they did not do so. Why? What happened to the mayor and city council’s fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers? Now they have given a deep discount on some of the most valuable commercial property left in our city.”

Mayor Kleis has touted himself as fiscally conservative. This transaction proves that he isn’t. This transaction proves that he isn’t that good of a negotiator. Then there’s this:

Second, a highly taxpayer-subsidized “affordable” housing project was approved and again I voted against this. Not that I am against affordable housing, but because of the way this project was billed as helping the affordable housing needs of our community. The developer and city staff billed this project to be one of the nicest apartment buildings in the area. The rents are so out of sync with market rate units. This project has a one bedroom apartment starting at $950 per month. After going on I canvassed 30 local apartment buildings with one bedrooms. The average rent as advertised was $699.33 and not one was listed at $950. The majority of the city council, along with the support of city staff, has allowed a private developer to extract significant public assistance from taxpayers all in the name of affordable housing.

Providing affordable housing isn’t a core function of city, county or state government. Period. The government should keep its nose out of this stuff.

PS- The people that voted for the Costco transaction and the affordable housing need to be run off the City Council ASAP.

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