Mayor Becker stopped by my business yesterday to, as he said it, understand the illogical opposition to commuter rail. FYI, the illogic jab was interpreted by me as a benign wise crack, ie no offense intended.
Assuming that what Becker said was true, and I don't know him to be one to deliberately mislead, I must incorporate this new info into my thinking.
It was my understanding that Metra would hemmorage about $8 million per year. Becker said that that amount is a bit high, but more importantly, that it includes repayment of the $40 million in local borrowing for up-front costs. This is an important difference because the $7 or $8 million or so of annual payments is almost entirely the repayment of capital expenses, not an operating deficit. So that annual payment will be over in a decade or so, depending on the length of the municipal bond. The operating deficit figures to be about a million per year, if I remember the mayor's figures correctly.
I never intended to get very worked up about the Metra extension largely because it is a federal battle rather than a local one, insofar as I am concerned. The problem, as I see it, is runaway spending at the federal level and that is not a problem that is going to go away anytime soon. And in this case, Racine will clearly benefit at the expense of taxpayers in Nebraska, Wausau, and west Racine county. The wealth transfer is going federal to regional, statewide to local, west of county to east of county, so Racine wins on this one. So while I remain vigorously opposed to government overspending, this is not a battle I intend to invest much of my time on.
But knowing me, that could change.