“Water Street” was a city-sponsored development project that bought and cleared business properties to create what is now the empty field just east of City Hall. This cost over $30,000,000 (around $750,000 per acre), under terms that guarantee repayment to bondholder investors at the expense of city taxpayers. It is still considered “an investment in the future” by diehard supporters (a dying breed). To paraphrase the opinion of one sitting council member, “we wouldn’t be discussing additional taxes if Water Street did not happen.”
It is important to note that the strongest supporters of the failed Water Street project are now the very same people advocating for higher taxes (claiming the city will go under otherwise). In its literature and arguments, expect this group to dismiss the idea of “city mismanagement,” and to blame the poor economy and falling housing prices instead.