Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Eeny Meeny Miny Moe.. Where will the bond money go?

NO ONE knows.  Not even the City of Asheville.

In the July 26, 2016 City Council meeting, "Ms. Whitehorn (City Finance Manager) said that
"when we write the bond question, the question is written in such a way that it leaves the option open for Council to add or remove particular projects."
"..it's important we stick to that plan."
Mayor Manheimer, knowing all eyes are on them, did warn "....there are expectations from the community..... Because we do have community trust that we will spend the money on what we say we will spend the money on, it's important that we stick to that plan."

Creative planning
However, she also warned.... "There are other big ticket items not in this bond that will need some creative planning."  
Hmmmm.  Whenever politicians talk about "creative planning" and money in the same sentence, you know it's going to be shady.

This is the problem with bond money. How money can be allocated CAN BE changed.
The only known are the three broad categories under which the bonds must be spent and they are Transportation, Parks & Rec, and Affordable Housing.  The grand total of the three bonds is $74 MILLION.

Shell Game
karl_thienemann_der_jahrmarkt_1843_der_taschenspielerThese three bonds are much like a sidewalk Shell Game. You think the money is in one place, when it's been moved to another. The City Council can change their mind as long as the funds go in the same category.  Therefore, what they sell you, is not necessarily what will be.

Take for example, the $32 million designated for Transportation.  The City has said they will spend at least $16 million on streets and bike lane repaving but the City could move these funds to more Greenway construction instead because Greenways also falls under Transportation. See how easy that was?

The City of Asheville has done their media best to sell these three bonds by specifying the projects they feel would appeal to voters the most but in truth, the City of Asheville does not have to specify or guarantee in any WAY, SHAPE OR FORM, that the funds will go to those specific projects.

Even so, The Citizen-Times and  Mountain Xpress have recently written extensive articles describing which projects, which roads, and which parks the bonds will be spent on.  At least there will be a paper trail to keep City leaders accountable but who cares about that?
At least we can do a whole lot of screaming and crying after the fact, if that is any consolation.

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