Thursday, October 27, 2016

Guest Editorial from Ken Michalove

NOTE: This was submitted to the Citizen-Times by Ken Michalove.  We  share it here.

Guest Editorial:
Vote “NO” on the Asheville $74 Million in Bond Issues

I vote “no” on the $74,000,000 bond issues until there is appropriate spending balance and protection against 4 votes changing an entire capital spending plan at any Council meeting.

The City desperately needs infrastructure improvements.  However, those needs have been supplanted by excessive funding of: affordable housing; greenways; the river arts district; and, the Asheville Art Museum, as compared to the overall needs of the City.

As an Asheville taxpayer, I am not willing to write a blank check to future office holders that I don’t know that may have the types of special interests that are currently funded disproportionately; or, in the future, the latest social need, as they see it.  Are you?

Why did the Council wait more than 5 years to consider a bond issue?  Interest rates have been at an all-time low for years…we are advised that interest rates will be increasing in the near future, as soon as December 2016.

Do we have the progress reports on the status of how the CIP funds have been spent in the past 5 years compared to the actual 5 year CIP approved projects?  I think not.

There has been a proliferation of new City  “user fees” for services…trash, storm water ……these are taxes!  And, there will likely be more of those “user fees” imagined by future City Councils as they try to tell the public they are not raising taxes.

The 2013/2014 Council raised taxes 2 cents ($2 million dollars). That $2 million was to be spent in 2014, it was not spent as appropriated.  However, the Council didn’t reduce that tax. Result…the City has collected in 4 years $ 8 million on a project that was not started but the tax was not lifted.  The use of funds can be hidden, there are no watch dogs to bring these matters to the attention of the public.

Do you realize that with the adoption of the current City Budget the City Council has $131,223,086 million (a combination of the 5 - year Capital Improvement Program, “CIP”, and the Fund Balance) to spend on capital and other projects which they can change at any given meeting with 4 votes; and, they have done so in the past! Now the Council wants us to vote for an additional $74,000,000 million making it a total of $205,223,086 million that can be changed at any given meeting with 4 votes.

One of my fears is that the Manager and Council have under estimated their commitments and future pressure by special interests for Affordable Housing; the River Arts District and Greenways; and, with the passage of a $74 million bond issue, more CIP money will be disproportionately available for those types of projects.

Ken Michalove, former Asheville Mayor and City Manager

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