Excuse #3: It's better NOT to budget for open space
Updated: Jul 15
Why Won't They Let Us Vote on Open Space Funding
This is the third 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 # 3: It's better NOT to budget for open space
In short, since the Borough has a strong credit rating and the capacity to borrow millions of dollars at any time, it’s better NOT to budget for open space acquisition and preservation.
On April 7th, Councilman Peter Williamson argued that the Borough is well positioned to buy available open space at ANYTIME when he said:
"We have millions of dollars in the bank and an excellent credit rating, and we regularly talk to open space prospects in town, so we know when and if to pursue them [opportunities to purchase land] …I don’t think tying the hands of the finances of the borough for a set period of time…I just don’t think it’s the right thing.”
View meeting and advance to time signature: 1:19:34
KMG’s Response to Excuse #3
Back in 2021, when KMG and neighbors living near the Centennial Woods located at 6th Street and Centennial Avenue pleaded with Councilman Williamson and his fellow Council members to buy the ecologically precious 1.1 acres of oak trees and other mature trees that the LANDOWNER HAD OFFERED TO SELL, we were told that there was “no money in the budget” for that purchase.
We were NOT told, “We have millions of dollars in the bank and an excellent credit rating.”
Now, the trees are gone and McMansions have replaced them.
So, it is interesting that when we ask Council to let voters decide if the Borough should establish a dedicated capital fund for acquiring land for open space, we are told to relax because the Borough has oodles of money to buy open space if and when some of it happens to become available.
When the Borough decided to spend a half million dollars to build a garage to keep trash trucks out of the rain, they first created a line item in the capital expense budget. In fact, creating a line item in the capital budget is the standard approach when Council ACTUALLY wants to get a project done.
What we learned from the Centennial Woods experience is that Borough Council will “cry poor” when landowners offer to sell open space to our local government.
If voters approved creating a dedicated fund for acquiring open space, then Council won’t be able to say “there’s no money in the budget” when a landowner offers to sell property that can become open, green space for generations to come.