Wednesday, August 13, 2014

For your information, I am posting the links to the various germain Council Meeting minutes below.
The date of each meeting is in the link as follows, year (2014) then month (07), then day (01).
As of now, the minutes from Aug. 5 or 12 are not yet posted.

I will add links as they become available.

Tom Portante

At the Council meeting on August 12th, there were many more people there that spoke in opposition to the new building.  As the discussion went on, it was apparent that Council, while still listening to the citizen comments, was anxious to get on with the business at hand.  However, a former councilman, Joe Fraunholtz, addressed Council by quoting from the Home Rule Charter that the process that was being used to further this issue appeared to be invalid.  It is a very complicated issue that I don't fully understand, so I don't feel comfortable writing about it here.  At tonight's regularly scheduled Republican Committee meeting I expect that we will thoroughly discuss it to see what the prospects are for the contracts to be let.  Please come by at 7 PM at the Council chambers to see what is happening.

Tom Portante

Sunday, August 10, 2014

As I expected, there were many more people speaking in support of Council committing the taxpayers to finishing the new building than opposed.  Most said how great it will be to have the new Community Building, but only a few spoke to remind everyone of the taxpayer financing of it.

The CCA asked that Council provide a "loan" to finish funding.  Of course no one reminded the Council that there is no actual loan to the CCA since the CCA is not actually spending any money.  Council will just refinance their existing municipal bond and add another $1.5 million or so to it to provide the ready cash when it is needed for construction.  Although CCA said they will continue to raise funds once the construction contract is signed, the O'Hara taxpayer is on the hook essentially forever.  I hope that CCA puts forth maximum effort, but, as many people there said, there is no guarantee that CCA can or will raise enough money.

A poll of the Council shows that a clear majority (at least 5 members) are voting to go on with the project.  Bob Smith waved around a piece of paper that he said was a summary of his campaign promises of his several elections.  One item on it was his commitment for the new building.

When I quoted Huck Vogel from March 4, 2014 when he said that he would max out O'Hara's commitment at $2 million, he said he was standing by that commitment, but insisted that "this just a loan, not giving it to CCA."  The problem is the Twp. is taking out the loan, not to give to CCA, but to put it toward the building.  So I ask, "What is the difference?"  The taxpayer is responsible for paying it back, not the CCA.  So Council is obligating the tax payer for $2 million out of reserves and $1.5 million in new borrowing.  I see no difference since the taxpayer pays it all if CCA fails to raise more cash.

Those people who called or emailed me should not bother to come to the next meeting since the majority of Council has committed to the full project, including all extras.

Tom Portante

Monday, August 4, 2014

Tuesday August 5th is shaping up to be a very contentious O'Hara Council meeting.  Several people who are in favor of Council spending the extra $1.3 million tax dollars have contacted me to tell me I am being mean and selfish.  I do wish that we could build it with donated money, rather than saddling the taxpayers with not only the initial capital cost, but the long-term risk of ongoing costs.  Unfortunately, the private fund-raising has not met the requirements to complete the building.

I have also had several calls or emails in support of my concerns that the Township is over committing the taxpayers to a building that we cannot support without a tax increase or spending our ready reserves on something that is nice to have, but not a requirement for core township services.

Again, please attend the council meeting on Tuesday, August 5th at 7 PM at the township building.

Tom Portante

Friday, August 1, 2014

The latest news is that the final number looks like the CCA is short by
$1,344,419. This will raise the taxpayer's total amount to at least
$3,344,419. The CCA has indicated that they will ask for a loan from the
Township to bridge the difference. My concern is that there are no
assets within the CCA to repay the loan. They are not legally
accountable for repayment. If they go out of business, there is no way
to recover any money. In addition, a loan of this amount would require a
repayment over 10 years at 1% interest of $17,170 per month. For 20
years, the amount is still $12,544 per month. I don't see that this
operation can generate anywhere near enough cash flow to cover this
payment. The other issue is collateral for the loan. The only thing that
can be used is the building itself, but the building is already owned by
the Township. Therefore, if the loan is not repaid, the township cannot
repossess a building that it already owns.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The situation is even worse than you think. With the latest bid opening, the amount that the taxpayers will be paying for the Community Center building is now about $3,500,000.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


At the O'Hara Township Council's special meeting last night (July 15, 2014), bids for the site preparation and landscaping were opened.  This part of the total package had to be rebid because the first request for quote did not include some vital items.  The result of this bid opening increased the total cost by about $450,000 to $9,195,648.  At last report (6/30/14), $7,656,093 had been raised.
For the moment, this raises the required contribution from the taxpayers to a total of $3,539,553.
Again, to put this in perspective, total property tax receipts for the entire township is $2,072,672 per year.
I believe that this is intolerable.  Council cannot and must not commit the taxpayers to this unnecessary use of tax dollars.  We must use our scarce resources to take care of those items that are required, such as road repair and park upkeep.  In addition, we are required by the County to build a new sewage pumping station in the Saxonburg Blvd. area next year.  This will cost somewhere between $3 & $5 million.  If the Community Center is built, it is almost a sure thing that taxes will be raised.

Tom Portante