Holst’s Unanswered Questions at Emergency Management Agency Public Hearing

“Why am I here? Nothing that has happened so far gives me faith that you are watching over our tax dollars. When you have a uncapped levy, nothing will control it. There will always be enough money. You’ll never be afraid to pass the budget, because there will always be the money. What’s happened to date, makes me realize, the taxpayers have to watch over this. And that’s why I am here today.”
February 1, 2011 – Diane Holst, from Eldridge, Iowa, addresses the non-elected EMA board during a public hearing for approval of the SECC911 budget. Holst, citing newspaper accounts and quotes, asserts that this body and staff have been understating the true cost to the taxpayers… referring to smaller component amounts, with and without federal grant funds included, and never truly stating that all told the cost to taxpayers is $32M (nearly 8X more than what this supposed to save taxpayers when it was sold to them), over the same 20 years.SECC911 director, Brian Hitchcock, when asked budgeting and reporting questions during the public hearing, by Diane Holst, has to defer to the county administrator, who is not at this meeting, for each question.Diane Holst: Why is the equipment bond payment for the year, the $750,000 isn’t in the actual budget number? It includes the building but not the equipment.”
Brian Hitchcock, SECC Director: “I believe that Dee would probably be a better answer to that. She would know how to answer that more than better than I am. For some reason they had Scott County pay back that loan. I am not sure how.”
“So it’s really closer to $8M when you add the $750,000,” Holst states.”I’m more the technical and operational aspect of it,” says Brian.Hitchcock was left to hang out there on his own, no board member, including Jim Hancock, Chairman of the Scott County board when SECC was formed in 2007, refuted Holst’s assertion that the true costs of SECC were being misstated.”As I hear some of these statements thrown around, I get concerned about the facts. We hear about 1400 radios getting purchased ‘with a grant’. That’s not quite true. Yes, $2.7 M were, but $4.4 were not and that came out of us. And little statements like that concern me and I think they are misleading to the public.And when you make a statement that to build and equip the building is $7.3 M, well that’s not really correct. $7.3M was the building. To equip it was another $3.38M.”

Hitchcock takes issue with that assertion, that the $3.8 was “not in the original cost of the building”. He eventually states, “I think that were talking maybe furniture or something like that.”

Holst states her concerns about going into debt for equipment over a 20 year period for equipment that has a life span, in various reports, from 3 to 10 years, and service contracts are in the bonds that will expire within the 20 year bonding period that will have to be renewed and incur further debt. When this equipment’s done we’re gonna be refinancing equipment.”

“Choose your words wisely when you tell the public when this grand opening happens, what it really costs, and that is $26 million.

Once the discussions about how the 29C was going to be put into place (to create this) the discussions about how much this was going to save us, were gone. Never heard it again. All the events being discussed were how much was going to be bonded to pay for it.

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