VIEWPOINT: Working together to build a better Claremont

by Jennifer Stark

Last week, the COURIER printed two letters to the editor and one viewpoint about a very important issue—the new police station bond measure that will be on the June 5 ballot.

One of the letters criticized the funding mechanism and the other was focused on the imperative of passing the bond. The viewpoint dealt with both the crucial need and discussed the funding mechanism.

The plans and the funding mechanism for the new police station are the result of community compromise and collaboration. I am thankful for the focus, dedication and leadership of the ad hoc committee. The committee was not a homogenous group. It was a dynamic group of sincere citizens coming together to successfully get the needs of our community met.

Once the evidence was presented on the earthquake hazard of the existing building, there was no argument that Claremont is in grave need for a new police station and with that common goal the ad hoc committee worked together to create the current plan. Committee members were not uniform in their assessments about the best funding mechanism.

Some people, like Matt Magilke, the author of the letter “Financing façade,” feel that parcel taxes are the way to go. Other people, like¨ Jon Forney, author of “The time is now” and Jim Keith, who wrote the viewpoint article, hold a different set of beliefs.

However, the defense of the general obligation bond was the more compelling option for it garnered the majority of support and is the funding mechanism of the police station bond that we will be supporting June 5.

Ideally, the perfect funding mechanism does not put financial demands on anybody. In reality that is not how anything gets financed. I agree with Mr. Keith and Mr. Forney that the time is now and the general obligation bond is, in my opinion, more equitable.

A parcel tax would likely be a financial hardship for members of our retired community who now live on fixed budgets.

Conventionally, it is general obligation bonds that fund the construction of buildings. It is the more secure funding method, so the financing costs are much less.

In this case, a few million dollars in financing fees are saved with the general obligation bond. Mr. Magilke and Mr. Keith made the point that the Colleges are exempt from taxation with the general obligation bond and this fact causes some consternation.

However, I am bothered by the idea of resenting the Colleges and I would like to point out the opportunity for more appreciation. Claremont would not be Claremont without the Colleges and the Colleges would not be the Claremont Colleges without Claremont. The Colleges and Claremont mutually enhance each other.

Last year, Pomona College generously gave Claremont millions of dollars worth of open, undeveloped land to augment our treasured wilderness park, in return for our promise to keep the awe-inspiring wild land undeveloped in perpetuity.

It is important to appreciate the fact that the doors to cooperation are not sealed shut. In time, the Colleges might see the benefit of contributing to the project. Regardless, the Colleges are not bound to fund this responsibility and they are well aware of the fact that Claremont’s record of safety is vital to enrollment and fundraising.

Overall, the story of getting this bond measure passed for our new police station will be one of collaboration. As a community, we are stronger together. Together we can get our police station built. Working together equals success and that is the Claremont way of doing things.

We dialog and defend our opinions, we debate, we compromise, we collaborate, we listen to each other and we value our neighbors’ input, because it is when everyone has a seat at the table that great things happen.

It was Mr. Magilke’s recommendation that led to the bond oversight committee. I hope he will consider joining that committee to help monitor costs of the project and lend his input and insight so that we may all benefit from his concerns about fiscal matters. Let’s work together.

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