The debacle of Patrick Henry Elementary School continues — just when you think this project cannot get any worse — the School Board transfers $5.7 million from another project (Polk) to pay for cost overruns at Patrick Henry. Now approaching $50 million in total cost and growing, the A1 project was embraced as a design that could save $1-2 million in savings. We have blown through the savings and currently are in the hole for an additional $6 million. In addition, adding insult to injury, the size of the school has increased by 17,000 sq. feet from what was promised 60 days ago — a 15 percent increase in the promised specifications.
The main selling point of A1 was the much ballyhooed financial savings. The traffic study deliberately left off the positives of C1, the safest and most traffic friendly in lieu the monetary savings of A1 and an accompanying tower. We still do not have the final figure for the A1 project. We need to go back to C1 — the clear winner in all categories. Why can we not develop a project that holds to specifications and cost? Are the facilities and planning board so inept that they cannot bring a project to scale and on budget? Every project directed by the School Board has been delivered over budget. Why are we attempting to hide the cost factor or are we just incapable of telling the truth?
I do not want to ruin your day any further, but the citizens of Alexandria can expect a 15-20 percent increase in your taxes on top of the 3 percent raise of last year in order to pay for $31 million for Metro funding , $611 million for school reconstruction due to lack of maintenance, $260 million for storm water issues that we have kicked down the road for decades, $40 million for cleaning up the coal tar from the gas plant spewing into the Potomac and, of course, the cost for Potomac Metro $300 million for a grand total of $1.25 billion, which may be at the low end of expectations.
The bottom line is that our governing bodies have been reckless. How do you ever vote on a school project without a final cost figure? Why do you not maintain schools to prevent such mass rebuilding? Why would you not address the issue of overcrowding when it was a known factor since 2009? Why would you not attend to sewage spill into the Potomac for decades?
This fiscal year Arlington will enjoy a one half cent decrease in taxes while Alexandria taxes will spiral by 20 cents. This suggests a total lack of fiscal responsibility and it was all self-inflicted.