By E.A. Roberts –
UC recently hired a new president at twice the salary of his predecessor (from $400,000 to a whopping $800,000);
The new UCD Chancellor was just hired at a salary more than twenty percent above the person she is replacing ($315,000 to $400,000);
UCD announced the construction of a new convention center in partnership with a high end hotel chain;
Alumni are toasting UCD’s plans to build a new high tech winery, price tag unspecified.
The above scenario is analogous to a person headed for bankruptcy court, squandering to their heart’s content, before the credit spigot is turned off. In the case of the UC system, though, the lavish consumption is at taxpayers’ expense. Ironically the Davis Enterprise emphatically states “Should UCD just go on a spending spree, however? Of course not. The campus is also tightening up its budget in some very painful ways.” Yes, by raising student fees to pay for UCD’s spending binge!
Item 2. An editorial by Janice Bridge appears in the Davis Enterprise, entitled “Seniors need more housing options”. In the article she states “The majority of seniors harbor the desire to “age in place” – to live in our current homes successfully until we die.” This is absolutely true. An AARP study indicated about 85% of seniors aged 55 or older expressed the desire to remain in their own homes for the rest of their lives.
Yet Ms. Bridge comes to the conclusion by the year 2020 Davis will need 800 senior-appropriate living units. She notes “We know at some point we will want to live in a smaller, more efficient home…”, in direct contradiction to her previous observation that seniors want to remain in their current residences. To get around this problem in logic, she concludes “Our desire is to be able to “age in the community” – to have our housing needs fulfilled in Davis.” The AARP study did not say 85% of seniors wanted to stay in their “current town” – it said they want to remain in their “own home”.
An alternative argument for massive amounts of new senior housing is posited in this editorial. New housing would “allow seniors to sell homes in established neighborhoods to families with children to fill our schools and utilize our parks”. But this runs counter to the original premise that seniors want to remain in their own homes. It is also remarkable to observe 800 units for seniors is the magic number suggested by the developers of the former Covell Village site that will supposedly be needed in the coming years. In fact the current housing market is stagnant, the value of housing plummeting dramatically.
Item 3. On the agenda for the May 19 City Council meeting is listed “Water/Wastewater Issues”. If you read further, it reads “Davis-Woodland Water Supply Project…Recommendation: Approve”; “Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to Execute Consultant Agreement with West Yost Associates for Wastewater Reclamation Alternative Analysis…Conaway Preservation Group…Recommendation: Approve…”.
In other words, it appears the city is still on a trajectory to do both the wastewater treatment plant upgrade and the water importation project. This, despite recent consultant alarm warnings that it will not be economically feasible for ratepayers to finance both projects at the same time. Already the recent increase in sewer rates have caused many to cry out in financial pain. With the state budget crisis looming, the last thing ratepayers need on their plate is an unpalatable, massive bill for both a water and sewer project.
Lesson to be learned: Taxpayers are infuriated, and tapped out financially. If the state and local government do not reign in what is perceived as wasteful spending, the backlash by the electorate may become quite ugly.
Elaine Roberts Musser is an attorney who concentrates her efforts on elder law and aging issues, especially in regard to consumer affairs. If you have a comment or particular question or topic you would like to see addressed in this column, please make your observations at the end of this article in the comment section.