Friday, August 27, 2010

The Greensboro News and Record Editorial Board on Guilford County finances

"Not in great condition

Melvin “Skip” Alston declared the state of county government to be “in great condition”and then explained how it’s not.

...additional revenue is needed more urgently now, Alston said, because of $651 million in bond projects approved by voters in 2008.

Paying for them will add $52 million in debt-service costs to next year’s county budget, Alston predicted."
If Total Principal and Interest Due in 2010/12 is.........$98,352,299,
and Total Principal and Interest Due in 2010/11 is ...-$70,850,005,
and the additional Principal and Interest Outlay is.............$27,502,294,
not counting additional corrections costs of ..................$9,000,000,
where did Mr. Alston come up with $52 million more number?
Did someone from the Greensboro News & Record
ask what the expected 2011/12 Budget Deficit is?
Has the Greensboro News & Record informed the public
of the actual state of the City of Greensboro's or Guilford County's finances?
"The sales-tax hike would cover only about $12 million of that, but even that amount would take pressure off the property tax.

Alston is right that the public has to pay for the said it wanted."
"it said it wanted"
Don't they really mean "the projects the N&R promoted and endorsed"?
Don't they really mean
"the projects the Greensboro Partnership and Downtown Greensboro promoted"?
Don't they really mean"the projects TREBIC promoted"?
"He demonstrated responsible leadership by urging business executives at Wednesday’s gathering to support the sales-tax increase."
But not responsible leadership
when Mr. Alston promoted and voted for the debt to be placed on the ballots
with the endorsement of the Greensboro News & Record?
"Many in the audience, however, might have puzzled over Alston’s claim that the county is in “great condition”...

...It’s hard to disagree with Commissioner Paul Gibson, who said, “The way we’re doing it, it’s like someone’s asleep at the wheel.”

...voters have reason to believe commissioners themselves aren’t much alarmed.
When the chairman opens his remarks by pronouncing that county finances are in “great condition,” voters can be satisfied with that and tune out whatever contrary details follow.

...The recession has cut into tax revenues..."
Should the Greensboro News & Record inform the public
as to how much revenues have fallen instead of using generalities?
"but hasn’t reduced demands for public services or eliminated debt payments."
Should the Greensboro News & Record inform the public
as to how much debt Guilford County intends to create in 2010 and 2011
and how much cash the County is spending?

"Current conditions are precarious, and leaders have to find real solutions."

The Greensboro News and Record Editorial Board

If Guilford County, North Carolina spent ~$53,161,224"
more than received in tax and other revenues in FY 2009/10
and plans to spend $36,695,976 more than expected income in FY 2010/11,
should the county borrow $191,400,000 more in FY 2010/11
and $155,930,000 more in FY 2011/12,
while drawing down $89,857,200 of savings in two years?
Source: Pages 18 and 198, Guilford County adopted FY 2010/11 Budget


Anonymous said...

The Greensboro News and Record shares responsibility for this mess.

They should own up to it and tell people some truth instead of avoiding the facts.

They endorsed all this stuff, and now they are blaming everyone but themselves.

Anonymous said...

Endorsements: A recap
Endorsement season is over and now it’s voting season.

Greensboro bonds

Street improvements: Yes

War Memorial Auditorium: Yes

Parks and Recreation: No

Housing: Yes

November 3, 2008

Anonymous said...

Sales tax increase: YES
Sunday, October 19, 2008

What it's for: Additional revenue to pay off $536 million in school construction

For a relatively painless cost, the additional sales tax would provide critical revenue for the county by adding 25 cents to every $100 purchase. It would exclude prescription drugs and unprepared food.

The tax is expected to raise $15 million a year, an estimated 40 percent of it from nonresidents of Guilford County. Further, the county commissioners officially pledged to spend the money for Guilford Schools and GTCC bonds voters passed in May.

Of course, this is not a legally binding promise. But any commissioner who reneged would have to answer to the voters.

There's no question any tax increase is a tough sell, even tougher in a trying economy. But this one is smart, prudent and fair.

Anonymous said...

Bonds and sales-tax proposal
Guilford County voters decide costly but important proposals. Our view:
Parks and recreation bonds, $20.2 million, No. The projects are fine, but they aren’t necessities.
Jail bonds, $114.6 million, Yes. A new facility housing 1,000 prisoners is needed to supplement the outdated, overcrowded and unsafe jail in Greensboro.

School bonds, $412.3 million, Yes. The plan contains some nonessential items that the school board should revisit, but the reality is that more and better classroom space is required for a growing population of students.

GTCC bonds, $79.5 million, Yes. The community college is a key driver of economic development and the place where thousands go to learn new job skills. It must be equipped for a challenging future.

Eastern Guilford bonds, $45 million, Yes. This fulfills an obligation to rebuild the high school that was destroyed by fire in 2006.

Sales-tax increase, one-fourth cent, Yes. This funding option relieves pressure on the property tax.

Anonymous said...

For parks bonds _________For parks bonds
For GTCC bonds __________For GTCC bonds
For all HP bonds ________For all HP bonds

"Total: Out of 50 endorsements in contested races, Guilford voters agreed with the News & Record on 38, and disagreed with us on 12, including three cases in which we endorsed Republicans."

Posted by John Robinson on Thursday, November 4, 2004 at 10:54 am

Anonymous said...

bond packages are, in a way, like shopping with credit cards. Sooner or later, the bills will come due.

That means tough choices need to be made. That means knowing our limits. That means distinguishing wants from needs and deciding what needs doing now and what can wait. And it means deciding what, if any, of the projects need not to be done at all — at least not on the taxpayer's dime.

...We'll evaluate these projects and include our recommendations on each as part of our political endorsements this fall. We will do our very best to be fair. But we'll also strive to be prudent. Here are our criteria for bond endorsements:

• Fiscal impact on the city and on taxpayers. What will each bond item cost and how will it affect the tax rate and the city's long-term debt?

• Urgency. Does the project have to happen now? What would be the consequences of waiting?

• Quality of life. How does it make Greensboro a better place to live? How beneficial is each initiative to the city at large? Does it benefit only a select few?

There's no doubt that the public's willingness to make wise investments in its future has paid generous dividends in the past through publicly financed bonds placed on the ballot as city, county and statewide initiatives. We've used bonds wisely for street improvements, police protection and new public schools. They've fueled fast-growing campuses at UNCG, N.C. A&T and GTCC.

There's also no doubt that Greensboro has, until recently, seemed terminally stricken with an inability to think bigger and reach higher. Thankfully, we seem finally to be getting past that.

But part of citizens' new willingness to support bonds has been their ability to see that money spent in ways that have made a tangible difference. Our investments in our city's future need to be wise and clear-headed.

Anonymous said...

FOR: School bond
One of Sunday's six endorsement editorials.


What it is: For new school construction, renovation and expansion of existing schools and other improvements.

Your cost: The owner of a $200,000 home would pay an average of $102.52 more per year in property taxes over the next five years, ranging from $37.44 more in FY 2008-09 to $145.88 more in FY 2011-12, then less in later years.

Pros: The projects covered would provide classroom space for 7,000 students and substantially make up for years of neglect.

Cons: The expense, both in terms of total cost and for individual projects, including more than $80 million for one new high school.

Our take: A larger school population is squeezed into older school buildings every year. More students are educated in mobile classrooms. Many lack adequate space for lunch or other activities. Outdated facilities don't provide the best learning environment. The need to build, expand and renovate is obvious. Even $412 million won't make up sufficiently for lost time.

Voters approved $200 million in school bonds in 2000 and $300 million in 2003. The effort was long overdue and just a start.

"We are at a point because of the age of our schools and the influx of students that we have got to do this. I don't think it's even a close call," said Paul Daniels, an unopposed school board candidate in District 5.

Much of the new funding will address needs in southeast Guilford County and Jamestown, areas that "have been pretty much ignored ... well, for a long time," Daniels said.

But, if the bonds pass, the school board needs to re-examine projects with an eye on paring costs. "We don't need Taj Mahal schools," Daniels said.

The proposed bonds represent an important investment in the county's future, but with so much catching up to do, every dollar must stretch as far as possible.

We say: YES

Anonymous said...

FOR: GTCC bond
One of Sunday's six endorsement editorials.


What it is: A new northwest campus near the airport, an aviation classroom building, land acquisition, and classroom renovations and upgrades.

Your cost: The owner of a $200,000 home would pay an average of $24.83 more in property taxes over the next five years, ranging from a low of $9.26 in extra taxes in FY 2008-09 to a high of $33.94 in 2011-12, less in later years.

Pros: GTCC needs to keep pace with growing demands for job training and retraining, especially during a soft economy.

Cons: At $12 million, the proposed new Jamestown parking deck seems especially expensive.

Our take: Over its 50-year existence, GTCC has trained displaced workers to find new careers and armed students with the skills to plug into up-and-coming industries that pay well. A good example is GTCC's aviation program, which prepares students for marketable jobs with airport-area companies such as FedEx, TIMCO and HondaJet.

If voters approve the bonds, the school would build a new northwest campus ($50.5 million) near PTI Airport that would specialize in aviation, transportation and logistics.

In addition, GTCC would buy land to expand existing campuses ($2 million), a prudent investment that would allow purchases as land became available.

A more difficult sell (at least at first glance) is the Jamestown parking deck, which would cost a pricey $12 million. But the only option for the landlocked campus to grow parking spaces is to build "up" and not "out."

Traditionally, GTCC has been viewed as the least glamorous member of the county's formidable higher education community. Today voters seem to recognize the school's vital contributions to the Triad economy.

They can prove it by saying "yes" to the GTCC bonds.

We say: YES