To the editor:
Our county commissioners and council members are claiming that the county is in such dire financial straits that they must borrow and bond in order to perform desperately needed repairs to several county facilities.
After reviewing an assortment of financial reports prepared by the county, I must respectfully and strongly disagree with their assessment of the situation.
Since 2010, the county has steadily increased the amount of its end-of-year cash balances by choosing not to spend all of its tax collections for that year. In this way, the county has been able to grow its unspent tax cash balances from $3.9 million at the end of 2009 to over $13.8 million at the end of 2014.
The unspent tax dollars making up the county’s current cash balances are more than sufficient to complete all the facility repairs and other items included in the now proposed bond and then some. The questions begging to be answered are: “Why haven’t these repairs been completed?” and “Why is the county considering bonding?”
The reason why the work has not already been done is easily answered. The commissioners and council chose not to spend the county’s on-hand tax collections to do these repairs. The commissioners and council intentionally hold back spending all the taxes collected each year. This conveniently allows them to grow the county’s cash balances each year without drawing attention from a trusting public. Bonding is merely a technique for increasing the amount of tax dollars to which the county would normally be entitled, and there you have the answer to the second question.
I have nothing against the county maintaining reasonable cash balances. However, I contend the current balances are far more than reasonable. Under no circumstances do I consider it sound fiscal practice to borrow and waste taxpayer monies on costly bonds when the county has sufficient cash on hand.
Only property owners who have not currently reached their “property tax cap” will be required to contribute to the repayment of the new bond being proposed. This is in addition to two other bonds, which they are currently paying on. Conversely, those property owners who are at or above their property tax cap will not contribute a single penny towards repayment of the new bond.
Most of these individuals also do not contribute to the repayment of the county’s other outstanding bonds. (Consequently, individuals already at their cap wind up paying far less than their normally required property tax assessment thanks to the stupid and unfair property tax cap amendment recently added to the state Constitution.)
The commissioners and council members persist in unnecessarily borrowing and wasting taxpayer monies. This form of double taxation is targeted at rural taxpayers, who are below their property tax cap, especially those residing in the eastern townships.
Even though the more affluent members of our community benefit from bonds, the majority of them do not have to contribute to the repayment because they happen to also make up the greatest number of people who are at or above their property tax cap.
Also by choosing bonding over increasing income tax rates, the council protects the more affluent members of Hancock County from having to pay more in income taxes.
The council could have raised the Public Safety LOIT rate and avoided bonding Why the council chose bonding deserves answering. Their choice doesn’t pass the smell test!
I would invite every taxpayer to stop by The Constitution Committee/Tea Party of Hancock County booth at the fair and take a hard look at all the county’s fiscal reports and then make your own decision.
Blue River Township Board member