#531: The $9M Patrick Henry parking garage?

Posted on February 24, 2020

When did this become a $9M project?  Beats me.  Last I recall, the only number mentioned was something like $4.7M.  Pretty sure that lower number was what was in the discussion of the capital budget.

I guess I haven’t been paying attention, because that’s the first I’ve seen of that $9M number.  But there it is, in black and white, in the documentation for that portion of tonight’s Town Council meeting, which you may access on this Town of Vienna web page.

Wait, doesn’t $9M for 188 spaces work out to be near $50K per parking place?  Didn’t (at least some) Town Council members balk at paying far less than that, for a parking garage on Mill Street?  Again, I must not have been paying close attention, because that’s sure how I recall it.  Isn’t that vastly more per space than the Town is going to pay at a proposed Church Street garage?  What the heck?

How many parking places does the Town need at this location?  You’d figure, you’d get a clear idea of that first, then proceed, right?  Nope.  Not clear that anybody has any estimate of that, but … but the Town will eventually do some sort of study, at some point, to guess at that.  It’s on the calendar for some time a couple of years from now.

How much time does the Town have to think this over?  One month.  According to Town staff, the agreement has to be signed no later than next month’s Town Council meeting.

Does this have anything to do with a modified Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), for the Town Council to re-approve at this meeting?  See materials on this Town of Vienna website page. Maybe, I haven’t quite had the time to look at it, except to see that, when the Town couldn’t fit the $35M borrowing into its current economic model, it … changed the economic model so that the $35M in proposed 2020 borrowing now fits.

Is the 2020 bond issue still, by far, the largest amount the Town has ever borrowed?  Yep.

Do we still burn through all the reserves in the bond fund, down to the agreed-upon $2M minimum safe level?  Yep, somehow, with the new economic assumptions, the reserves fall to exactly $2M with $35M in borrowings, which is exactly the minimum acceptable level.  (This is from materials for Tonight’s Town Council meeting).

Does that new projection include additional 2022 and later borrowings to cover the increased cost of the parking garage?  Not clear, because not shown.  Last time around, the figured the cost of the garage in as about $4.7M, but free to the Town (paid for by some other entity).  So it’s not clear that an additional $9M in liabilities has been worked into the future borrowing scenario.  Here’s how the Town’s projected borrowings stood as of the last (what I though was the final approved) version of the CIP.  (This is calculated from the prior CIP, not the new CIP to be approved at tonight’s Town Council meeting.)

Today, gold hit $1673 per troy ounce (per Kitco).  Does anybody remember or care what happened to meals tax revenues for 2009, during the last recession?  Nope.  Likely I’m the only person in Town who cares about that.  But just FYI, here’s the historical on that one:

Does it bother anyone but me that the Town is projecting no trouble paying for all this, based on nothing but ultra-strong revenue growth for immediate, mid-term, and far future?  Apparently not.

How long does the Town Council get to think about this new proposed CIP?  Per the presentation, no time at all — they have to approve it tonight.