Dear Editor:

I attended last week’s Clinton City Council meeting with the hope of learning the city’s intentions in regard to the potential purchase of the Payton Dodge building. The building would cost the taxpayers $320,000 and would house a complex of city offices.

This will not be the first time that the city has purchased land for the same purpose. You may recall that in March 2010, the mayor and then city council purchased a concrete pad and nine acres of swamp land for a total of $160,000. The location of that proposed city complex was on Factory Road at the location of the former River Trail Boat Factory. Today, over three years after the purchase, the concrete pad remains empty with the exception of dirt piled on it.

My questions for the city is, where is the city complex that the taxpayers were promised over three years ago? Why are you even entertaining the idea of the purchase of the Payton Dodge building for $320,000, when you have already purchased land for the same purpose that never came to fruition?

Assuming the city purchases the Payton building at a taxpayer burden of $320,000, it will have to be retrofitted to suit their needs. This cost is in addition to the initial $160,000 used to purchase the former boat factory property that has yet to house anything.

Therefore, before any retrofitting cost, the taxpayers of Clinton will have invested $480,000 and still not have a new city complex.

According to an article in the September 11, VBC Democrat, "the mayor would like to see the city buy up the vacant buildings in downtown Clinton and incubate businesses." I agree that the downtown area is in need of revitalization, but should it be with the taxpayers’ dole?

My question for the taxpayers is: Does the City of Clinton need to be in the real estate business? Is this a prudent use of your tax dollars? Is this really going to revitalize downtown Clinton and improve economic development?

You may recall a few months ago that the city spent just under $8,000 on iPads for the council to use at their meetings. In 2010, the city purchased an alleged unusable concrete pad and some swamp land for 20 times the cost of the iPads. In 2013, the city is entertaining the idea of spending 40 times the cost of the iPads for a total of $320,000 on the Payton building and possibly entering into the real estate business and becoming landlords.

Enough already! We have real issues that need attention in Clinton, Arkansas. Wasteful government spending in Clinton, Arkansas, has to stop.

To see your tax dollars at work, drive out to the end of Factory Road and see exactly what your $160,000 bought in March 2010.

Ben Hayes, Clinton