Dear Citizens of Morris:
I was saddened to see that a well-respected and well-intentioned member of our community has fallen prey to some of the misinformation that continues to be spread by Mayor Kopczick.
In particular, Jim Baum’s VOP defending the expenditures on Kopczick’s Taj Mahal contained the same material inaccuracies and omissions that Mayor Kopczick has been putting out for years.
Kopczick Claim: The completed Municipal Services building cost $8.6 million.
FACT: According to the official documents provided by the Morris City Clerk’s Office, the Municipal Services building has cost well over $11 million. As of Jan. 28, 2011, the cost of the building itself had been $8,686,447.00.
Kopczick intentionally omits other costs inherent in the overall cost of the building, including land cost ($942,060.00), architectural fees (933,986.50), engineering fees ($52,519.50), attorney fees ($27,385.57), utility line relocation ($25,542.64), sound amplification system ($34,385.00), audio/visual equipment ($34,375.00) and numerous other costs for improvements totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Additionally, this does not include the increased cost of operating the new oversized city hall, which have substantially increased compared to the vacant city hall. Because of the new city hall, we have a second full-time janitor, increased insurance costs, increased maintenance and repair costs, and increased costs for supplies.
Kopczick Claim: The new facility was paid for by the city saving TIF funds for several years and the city did not borrow money to fund it.
FACT: While that is in a sense technically true, the fact of the matter is that for years, as a result of the TIF, we have been overtaxed, which Kopczick then used to overspend, and that we continue to be overtaxed through the TIF so that Kopczick can continue to overspend and waste more taxpayer money in the future.
Kopczick Claim: The lowest bidder was not a local contractor, which was disappointing. The law requires the city to award the project to the lowest bidder.
FACT: In the first place, the city did not need to proceed with the new city hall. The police needed more space. It didn’t need to be on this grand and expensive of a scale. Second, after the bids were received, the city was not required by law to accept any bids. No bids were received from any Morris business. Third, the city could have done some line-item bidding instead of having one large bid. This may very well have reduced costs and allowed Morris businesses and workers an opportunity to work on the building.
For example, the concrete supply and labor for the building could have been line-item bid. We have two high-quality concrete businesses in Morris that pay taxes and employ local residents. Either one of those two concrete companies could have easily competed against the out-of-county concrete supplier and probably at a better cost.
Another example is regarding the cost of material and supplies for the building that could have been line-item bid and allowed Morris local businesses and workers an opportunity to work on the building. At the time, there were three good building material suppliers in Morris. The city did not allow them an opportunity to even bid, except on the building as a whole.
Please keep in mind that nearly all of the $11 million+ that has been spent on the city hall has been sucked out of our city and out of our county and has almost no chance of re-circulating in support of our local businesses, workers and community.
Had that money been spent on local Morris businesses and workers, it is reasonable to conclude that a significant portion of that money would stay in Morris and be spent and invested on other local businesses and employees, as well as the resulting sales taxes and other taxes generated.
Unfortunately, the mayor saw to it that that did not happen, and almost all of that $11 million is gone.
In addition to local businesses, during the time that the new city hall was built, we unfortunately had — and continue to have — an unacceptable high level of well-qualified, experienced, high-quality tradesmen who are either unemployed to underemployed living right here in Morris that could have done a great job helping build it.
Instead, those citizens were not even allowed an opportunity to work on the building, had to help pay for the building, and then got slapped in the face with garbage fees by the mayor.
In conclusion, my question for Mayor Kopczick is: If the new city hall is such a great thing for the taxpayers of Morris, why would anyone need to misinform the public as to its true costs?