Published September 9, 2010, Caroline Progress Newspaper
In response to an inquiry by your reporter, Mr. Simmons, I am not in favor of pushing the county any deeper in debt for anything other than building improvements to Caroline County schools which have gone for years without proper attention. Schools are the first aspect of a locality new home buyers look at when considering a move to a community. New perspective business owners who bring employees to an area also look first at the schools. This year the superintendent and school board asked us, the Board of Supervisors for monies we said we could not provide. If this is true, how can we then borrow money for “Recreation Areas” which have recently been proposed by the bos? I have personally supported the Dawn Library with donations and attendance at events and greatly admire the group associated with this project for their hard work but the county is over 100 million dollars in debt with almost nothing in infrastructure to show for it. What I am being urged to do is to vote nearly a million dollars for this and then turn around and “buy” the other districts something as well like a “Recreation Area”
In order to fund projects like this a locality must be careful with its public tax dollars. Caroline County has not been careful or wise and this year alone has had to lay off employees and will most likely have to do the same thing next year. I cannot lay people off from their jobs, a move which directly affected 10 families and then later vote for “Recreation Areas, YMCAs and Libraries” so that each district can have a new “thing” of equal value to another.Nor can I in good conscience, attend functions at the schools as I often do and see the basic needs of the buildings go unmet, the lack of supplies and competitive salaries for our teachers and vote for things like YMCAs which benefit a small portion of the populace at the expense of our schools. Five million dollars would go a long way to replacing the aging HVAC system in theHigh School.
As far as the Caroline Pines water system goes those citizens would be better off as an HOA, borrowing their own money and sinking their own wells when you consider the water quality in the Carmel Church area. They will be at the end of our lines which are already miserable in quality. As far as the huge debt we are presently about to occur on a new wastewater treatment plant, the expansion of the capacity of our plant is not a crisis and can wait. There are ways to extend the life of this plant which have not been explored.
When it comes to the actual numbers being considered, the borrowing of 63 more million dollars, citizens should know that there is no viable REAL plan to repay these new loans as there is no viable, real plan to repay the existing 100 million plus. The idea that in this economic environment we will have 90 new connections is almost ludicrous and at 90 we would only break even.
The return of the economy is not the answer as even during the boom time, when money was available, it was not structured toward debt payment but toward more spending. During this time instead of repayment to the contingency fund and repayment of the county’s floating note to pay basic bills and expenses(which other counties hold in reserve)Caroline just kept spending and using connection fees for operations on top of that which is a bad practice. The utility debt can never be self supporting if this continues.
Every time we have a hole in the budget, fellow board members scream “proffers” Proffers are not the answer to repayment as first of all, the proffer structure, like that of the recently passed Carmel Church Station, essentially requires the developer to pay nothing and the tax payer to foot the bill for everything including the mythical train station which will most likely be built in Spotsylvania. In addition, previous proffers go uncollected and those scheduled for items like repayment to the developer of the Ladysmith Library are continually raided for other things. The track record is not good. The situation that Caroline County taxpayers are presently in is precarious enough. I would urge them to pay attention, come to meetings and understand the situation when it comes to debt and the relationships to their reassessments in the future.
Disregard the bright shiny objects inserted in each district as an incentive to get folks on board. If you cannot afford to pay your property taxes and live here, a YMCA is not going to do you much good.
Bowling Green District Superivsor