We received the following email from Dan Arrison.
To Erock’s Beat:
With the budget discussions happening in Eddystone, I thought it imperative to break my silence in an attempt to quash some of the rumors floating around town regarding the projected revenue the Borough anticipated to receive from Camden Iron and Metal and the timing of capital investment decisions made by Borough Council and Mayor Orr.
1. The 2013 budget shortage is not a result of Camden Iron’s missing money.
2. The 2013 budget shortage is a direct result of the unanimous decision of the Borough Council, supported by Mayor Orr, to spend almost 3 million dollars on capital investment prior to receiving a dime to finance a new firehouse.
1. In November 2010, Tom Corbett was elected into office after running on a platform of fiscal austerity. ‘Wasteful spending,’ according to him, included the 31 million dollar Philadelphia Regional Port Authority grant for CIM.
2. In December 2010, CIM representatives contacted my wife and I in an attempt to mediate an understanding, presumably, so they could go to Governor Rendell and get their money prior to his leaving office.
3. In May 2011(one month prior to the Firehouse vote), I was acutely aware that CIM was unsure of its plans to move into the Borough, thanks to my meeting with CIM executives and representatives during the winter and spring of 2011. In May, CIM had not confirmed its decision to move into Eddystone, as they had yet to receive the PRPA grant.
4. In June 2011 Council voted to build a 3 million dollar firehouse assuming that CIM’s money would finance this project, despite the above information; news reports confirm this fact.
5. In October 2011, the PRPA formally notified CIM that Governor Corbett had reauthorized the 31 million dollar grant to another project. To say it another way, CIM would not receive the 31 million dollars. This decision is public record.
6. It was common knowledge to the active stakeholders within this issue that CIM would not move without that grant. It is why we fought so hard against the company’s receipt of it, starting as far back as April 2010. Our goal back then was to delay the money long enough for a new Governor to take office.
7. In October 2011, no work had started on the firehouse project, nor did either the Council or Mayor verify if the CIM money was available to finance the project. We knew the money did not exist; Council and the Mayor, apparently, did not.
8. In November 2011, the Borough broke ground on the firehouse despite the above information and with no alternative plan for the financing.
9. Thus, the Mayor and Council effectively spent 3 million dollars, which equates to nearly 100% of the Borough's annual budget, in anticipated taxpayer money they never actually collected.
Knowing Governor Corbett’s campaign platform of fiscal austerity, it should have been clear to the Borough Manager, President Pappas, and Mayor Orr that the CIM grant would be in danger when he took office. Understanding that CIM had hoped to be operational in 2010 but had not broken ground in June 2011 should been a clue that a problem existed. Seeing in October 2011 that no developments on the former Foamex property started should have, at minimum, nudged one of these three people to ask a question to determine what was delaying the CIM project.
If/when our taxes go up, it is not because a few residents spoke up and fought for something they believed to be right. If/when our taxes go up, it is a direct result of the lack of foresight, coupled with a mountain of spite, existing within a Council and Mayor who refused to consider for even one second that its residents might know something they did not know. To this day, I sincerely believe that neither Mayor Orr nor President Pappas comprehend the level of complexity that went into the challenge that ultimately thwarted the CIM project.