One who intends to leave others better off for his having existed.

2/6/12

More than $100 million borrowed without discussion? Well, no ...

"At this week's Guilford County Commissioners meeting, there were a few citizens who gave the commissioners a hard time about authorizing roughly $184 million in bonds without much discussion.

$167 million was on the consent agenda.

It wasn't nessessarlly a question of debate,
it was hidden in the consent agenda
to make like the act didn't even happen.

...George Hartzman raged over the county's ballooning debt and falling revenues. He questioned why the county would continue to borrow so heavily, voting to do so without any debate.

The problem with that line of reasoning? The bulk of this bond debt was debated back in 2008, when voters approved $651.4 million in bond debt for school projects and a new jail. This week's commissioners vote was just on issuing actual bonds for that debt.

NC wasn't in such lousy shape
when the debt was voted on by the public.

Guilford County had $90 million more in short term savings
when the bonds were voted on.

Revenues were not falling.

Property values were rising.

And now revenues are falling, and property prices are flat to down.

MEDIAN EARNINGS AND PER CAPITA INCOME DECLINED MARKEDLY

Per capita income levels continued a three-year decline
from a high of $25,560 in 2008 to $23,832 in 2010.

"...The substantive decline in dividend investment capital
due to the financial crisis and national recession of the late 2000s
may have negatively impacted per capita income."

In fact, the debt has been debated -- among commissioners and by the public at meetings -- every year since. It's happened during budget cycles. It's happened when school board officials come to give reports. It's happened when new guards for the new jail are debated and when the sheriff defends the structure of the new jail.

The debate has not gone the way many conservatives -- Commissioner Billy Yow, along with Hartzman -- would like. The county has continued to borrow heavily, even in the face of falling revenues. It has cut staff and services and increased taxes to deal with the problem. And those moves have led to still more debate.

The problem, as Commissioner Kirk Perkins pointed out, is not that the commissioners aren't discussing or debating the issue. They simply didn't debate it while doing what was procedurally necessary to do the borrowing they'd already decided on.

Being surprised by that is a bit like deciding to buy a house, getting approved for a loan, choosing a house, making an offer, having the offer accepted, picking out carpets and drapes and then being SHOCKED when there isn't a huge discussion over whether it's a good idea as you're putting pen to paper on the mortgage documents.

Isn't it more like losing your job,
and then deciding not to buy a house you can't afford?

If your income falls before you sign on the dotted line,
shouldn't you rethink?

[Not in print but online] Hartzman and other conservatives may argue that you SHOULD have that discussion, and at that moment if necessary, when you're broke and already deeply in debt.

They may be right. That's why it's worth them keeping the debate -- which is certainly not lacking -- alive.

Joe Killian
February 3, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Most, if not all, of those bonds were approved by voters
before the economy did a kamakazi.

If the commissioners were doing the work that they were elected to do,
they would hold off on bond issues.

Just because the bond projects were approved,
doesn't mean that they must go forward.

Regardless of previous discussions,
prudent people would look at the current state of the economy
and at least have another discussion, even if the decision is the same.

But, they just don't care about Guilford County citizens.

It seems that so many folks are living in "la la land,"
that they'll continue to elect the same commissioners.

Newsflash! We are in BIG trouble!

buzzman
February 3, 2012 - 3:33 pm EST

"...your home purchase analogy above is severely flawed.

There is no contractual agreement that the city
MUST issue approved bonds nor is there a breach of contract penalty.

In my opinion, a realistic analogy would be
that of an individual issued a high limit credit card,
but due to a change in financial position
that person has wisely not decided to use it ,
opting instead to limit their spending."

uncwgm
February 3, 2012 - 7:27 pm EST

Joe Killian: "The problem isn't a lack of discussion.

The problem is that those who are of the opinion
that the spending and borrowing pattens need to be drastically changed
aren't making enough of an impact on the commissioners
to either convince them
or make them afraid of being removed from office."

Agreed.

The commish's don't understand what they are doing.

I believe they don't want to know.

I believe they would have fired Brenda by now.

But they should know.

They are merely trying to get through the next election
to maintain political power.

Their fiduciary responsiblities to constituents
are tertiary.

What Joe is saying is the worst of worlds.

We may be governed by financially illeterate
narcissists.

Abner Doon, February 5, 2012 - 10:35 pm EST

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