Excuse #2: A YES vote will jack up prices
Why Won't They Let Us Vote on Open Space Funding
This is the second in a series of posts about what Media Borough Council members have said about why Media residents shouldn’t be able to vote in November on whether or not to invest in saving our last remaining green open space in the borough.
KMG will also provide our responses to Council members’ arguments for denying voters a voice in whether or not our borough should invest in acquiring and saving open space.
Note: KMG reviewed video footage from the April 7, 2022 Borough Council Workshop meeting, when over 30 minutes was devoted to this topic, to ensure that the Council members are quoted accurately.
Excuse # 2:
A YES vote will jack up prices
In other words, if voters approve a referendum authorizing the investment of millions of dollars in open space, landowners will become greedy and increase prices when Borough officials approach them about buying land.
On April 7th, Councilman Brian Hall used this line of reasoning when he said:
“If we were to have a referendum – the wide world knows how much money we have in our pocket and for what reason we have that money in our pocket. It is very difficult to negotiate with somebody when they know that you really want it and they know how much you have in your pocket.”
View meeting and advance to time signature: 1:46:48
KMG’s Response to Excuse # 2
This excuse is particularly perplexing, since Councilman Hall had explained earlier in his live-streamed, televised, public presentation on April 7th that Borough Council had ALREADY adopted the Media Open Space Plan. In fact, he proclaimed that “…to a person, we [members of the current Council] support what’s in this plan…we listened to our residents…we’re not [his emphasis] going to turn our back on this plan.”
View meeting and advance to time signature: 1:44:23
The Open Space Plan that Council will never turn its back on boldly recommends investing “3 to 10 million dollars” to acquire and preserve open space in the borough within the next three years.
Shhh…but the “secret” is already out.
So, potential land sellers already know that Borough Council—if you take them at their word—is committed to buying up to 23 acres of land in a short window of time. Any landowner can access the Borough’s website to review annual budgets, financial audits, capital reserves, current debt service, and borrowing capacity. Landowners can easily figure out that the Borough has more than adequate financial resources to compete for land at current market prices.
If they are smart, landowners also know that the Borough has a considerable advantage that other prospective land buyers DON’T have: The Borough has the legal authority to take their land through eminent domain for parks and open space and then let a court determine the fair market value. Landowners who may try to squeeze local taxpayers risk losing dollars should the Borough Council decide to use its lawful power of eminent domain.
The excuse that a voter-approved referendum will hurt the Borough Council at the negotiating table is a straw dog.