We have all heard, many times, that Camp Jordan is the Crown Jewel of East Ridge. We have been told that investments in Camp Jordan pay off in the long run by keeping taxes low, that “Camp Jordan is a gold mine” – a direct quote from Vice Mayor Vince Dean, way back in the year 2000.
We on the west side in particular have watched our streets erode and our businesses close in favor of shiny new developments at Exit One.
We have put up with it, for the promise of low taxes. We have heard the eternal promise of “Not now, but soon.” We have been patient, waiting for the growth to head our way. Well now it has – according to the tax assessor! Not that you can tell, if you actually live here, work here, or drive on our roads.
Thanks to bottomless spending on Camp Jordan and Exit One, our appraisals have gone up 35%, without any actual improvements. The City wants to turn that into 25% higher taxes to fund even more spending, that will then bring us even higher taxes next time. We are trapped in an endless cycle of “growth” without growth. Until now, we’ve been told the Exit One development will keep taxes low. What a whopper – and we swallowed it, hook, line, and sinker.
By my reckoning, the City of East Ridge has taken on about $8 million in debt in the past four years to develop Camp Jordan and Exit One. That’s not total spending; that’s just bond issues. I frankly doubt anyone, including at City Hall, knows the total that has been spent in the same time frame; there’s a five- or six-figure request at just about every council meeting. I would not be at all surprised if the total exceeds $20 million – and has anyone other than a few developers (and campaign contributors) seen one bit of good from it? For all this “growth,” I personally have just seen growing traffic, growing crime, and now growing taxes.
The City wants us to whip out the checkbooks to pay for their spending spree. I suggest they first take a hard look at their expenses, as any American family or business would do in their place. Camp Jordan is a great place to start.
_ Charles McCullough