The debit list

I sure would like to see the document Matt Czajkowski was asking for at last Monday’s Town Council meeting.

Czajkowski had requested a one- or two-page listing from town staff that would lay out what other financing or bond requirements, certificates of participation, interest-bearing and required debt service, and other fiscal obligations that the town faces. His request came during a discussion about whether to take on even more town debt by issuing the library expansion bonds.

Czajkowski was concerned that the council was about to vote on the bond issue without having a list of looming obligations. Among those obligations are the payoff for the Wallace Parking Deck, health care and retirement costs, water quality requirements for Jordan Lake, the need for a new police building as well as Parks and Rec facilities, and the $8 million pay-out for Lot 5, plus cleanup costs before construction begins.

Czajkowski’s request seemed pretty reasonable to me: I’ve always found it useful to compare my expenses with whatever big-ticket item I might contemplate buying. You can’t just spend and spend because you have a seemingly huge pot of resources, aka town taxpayers.

Laurin Easthom also was concerned about the debt saddle that the town would be wearing. I’m not sure she was happy when Town Manager Roger Stancil emphasized that if the library bonds were issued, any financial emergency the town faced in the next five years could not be paid for without a tax hike.

Let’s face facts: The town operations center, the last big-ticket project the town financed, went way over budget. Who’s to say the library project won’t? If we are touching our debt ceiling by borrowing $16 million, what will we do if costs go overboard? That, in addition to those other looming expenses, just makes it prudent to delay the library debt.

Easthom summed it up pretty well: “We’re all in a bad state economically. It’s irresponsible to vote for a $16 million expansion project.”

Stancil said May 24 is the deadline for issuing library bonds. He didn’t say anything about the town asking the N.C. Local Governments Commission to extend the time limit for another three years, which is also an option.

Bottom line: We don’t have to issue those bonds right now, and when you look at the state of the town’s economy, it would be imprudent of the council to do so.
–Don Evans

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  1. Terri Buckner

     /  March 29, 2010

    With 10 year old plans, the energy systems, such as the HVAC controls and the lighting, will have to be updated. To include new energy systems and any other ‘green’ features will require a complete rework of the plans. That makes going over budget on the library project is a very real possibility.

  2. I don’t understand what you are saying. “I wish I could see…” makes is sound as if Czajkowski’s request was refused or something. What happened to the request? Finish your story, please.

  3. Nancy Oates

     /  March 29, 2010

    What we heard was at the Town Council retreat, Czajkowski had asked Stancil to provide a list of anticipated major expenses. Stancil said he would provide that, but by last Monday’s council meeting, he still had not shared that with council members.

  4. First glance at the headline I thought it said the “bucket list”.

    From WCHL on the CH Museum:

    [Executive Director Traci] Davenport will request that the town start paying approximately $49,000 per year to cover operating and maintenance expenses. She says the economy is affecting the amount of donations the museum has received in recent years and that donors are more interested in funding new education programs, rather than paying for plumbing or other improvements to bring the building up to code.

    There’s lots of $49,000 unexpected expenses that pile up over time.

  5. Thanks, Nancy.

  6. Cam

     /  March 31, 2010

    The plans aren’t ten years old. The architect was only selected 3 or 4 years ago.