Jim Moeller: Follow the Yellow Brick Road

by lewwaters


College 4Submitted by Professor Robert Dean

MoellerJim Moeller Oh Robert! Will you please quit trying to scare me with your “legal mumbo jumbo”? I don’t take you seriously I certainly hope you don’t. Clark County going bankrupt??!! Really?? How is that going to happen when there is NO county money in it? WOW! Are you that desperate to kill this Project?
18 hours ago • Like

Jim Moeller No need to answer that question, Robert. Of course you are.
18 hours ago • Like

Robert Dean: Jim, hooray! At last you are seriously questioning the project. OK, great, hang with me here, I don’t want to lose you again. OK, sit at your computer monitor and open this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_County,_Alabama

Right, you asked a very, very important and quite astute question. There is no stupid question except the one you don’t ask. Great!

OK! You asked “How can Clark County go bankrupt if there is no Clark County money in the project?” Right?

Everyone listen up!

First, let me explain that the County, that corporate entity that’s run by the three commissioners, does not have any money of its own – it has to get money from us, the tax payers.

Second, we the tax payers will be on the hook for $3.3 billion over the next 30 years for our direct “local contribution” to the CRC light rail project.

Third, there are unknown and unstudied “indirect costs” to the local community if we get saddled with the “local contribution” to this CRC light rail project:

• Like downtown merchants trying to survive 6.3 years of light rail and parking garages construction;
• 5 years of SR-14 being closed to Downtown ,
• Another 6 years of Phase 2 interchanges under construction in dribs and drabs as money becomes available;
• The effect of tolls on land values in Clark County;
• Not to mention the bridge being too low for river commerce.

For example, see page 20 “Business losses are not compensable in the states of Washington or Oregon. Therefore, no assessments are made as to business solvency and how construction activity, for example, may further impact a business’ operations.”

Fourth, cost overruns will be paid by the local community. Typical cost overruns for highways and bridges are 30% (Megaprojects and Risk – Bent Flyvbjerg). The design phase is already 248% over budget and we still don’t have a final design or a cost.

Fifth, that $3.3 billion local contribution is only for Phase 1, the light rail ready portion of the project. Phase 1 does not fix the interchanges that cause the congestion problems. Phase 2 will fix the interchanges but there is no federal or state money for Phase 2. Phase 2 about $1 billion will be paid by the local community again with tolls.

1) Federal funding through MAP 21 is going to be TIFIA loans to be paid back with tolls. The feds are just as broke as we are. http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/MCT/docs/MCTACMaterials_August2012.pdf

2) Oregon does not have $450 million to contribute. They are relying on a study by CDM Smith that says they can get that $450 million from tolls. http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2013/03/columbia_river_crossing_consul.html

3) Washington does not have $450 million. Jim is trying to get it from tolls, also. http://www.columbian.com/news/2013/feb/28/bill-eyes-tolls-to-pay-for-states-crc-share/

4) Both states are deferring expensive portions of the project (interchanges and Rose Quarter fixes). They will be added later and financed with tolls.

Sixth, tolls are an expensive way to finance a project. Triple the face value of the bonds to cover debt service and tolling costs. That brings the 30 year direct cost of the local contribution for full build-out of the Locally Preferred Alternative to $6 billion (that is if we want to improve freight mobility and go ahead with Phase 2). http://www.columbiarivercrossing.org/ProjectInformation/CostsAndFunding/Tolling.aspx?utm_source=CRC+eUpdate&utm_campaign=85e17a33f3-eUpdate_June_5_2012&utm_medium=email

Seventh, the local contribution is a loan. It is a legal obligation that must be repaid with interest. If tolls won’t cover the debt service, and they won’t, we’ll have to raise taxes to fulfill our legal obligations to repay the debt.

Eighth, little old Clark County does not have $6 billion.

“Stuart and Bragdon both have pressed the crossing office to conduct a scientifically valid survey to gauge the willingness of residents to pay a toll or boost gas taxes to pay for the nonfederal share of the project.

Wagner said this week that the CRC will commission a survey.

“We are planning on doing a statistically valid survey, and it’s probably going to occur before the Record of Decision,” he said.

What if the survey reveals the public believes the benefit isn’t worth the cost?

“Then, we recognize the timing’s not right,” Stuart said. “People are really struggling right now, and the idea of adding another $1,500 to $2,000 a year to their burden seems pretty extreme.””

Now, look at Jefferson County, Alabama. The people of Jefferson County bit on a $1 billion infrastructure project that ballooned to $2 billion with cost overruns and to $4 billion with financing charges. Jefferson County Alabama has twice the wealth of Clark County and they went bankrupt over an infrastructure project of half the cost of our local contribution to the CRC light rail project.

The Mayor of Birmingham went to jail.

That, Jim, is how Clark County could go bankrupt over the local contribution to the CRC light rail project that Tim Leavitt’s firm so desperately wants.

3 Comments to “Jim Moeller: Follow the Yellow Brick Road”

  1. State Reps Moeller(D 49th) and Wylie(D-49th) are sponsors of
    House Bill 1975 – 2013-14
    Revised for 1st Substitute: Authorizing toll revenue bonds for the financing of the Columbia river crossing project.

    In Olympia a public hearing was held, and this is how Moeller responded to citizens and Vancouver business owners who came to testify, 3 minutes each, as reported by OregonLive.com.

    Moeller, who sits on the House Transportation Committee and was present during the hearing, said he’s heard it all before, and so have his fellow legislators. Moeller said his colleagues weren’t exactly thrilled to listen to the project’s opponents say their pieces.
    “They were bored to tears,” he said. “They were quite honestly disgusted with the testimony.”


  2. BRILLIANT WRITE, Professor… ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!!! A definite eye opener to be taken seriously by the local and state leadership!!!



  3. Okay but he must of skipped economics in school so I think this is over his head, don’t you?


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