Asheville leaders and organizations weigh in on bond choice

BIG DECISIONS: Asheville voters will weigh in on three separate bond measures: $32 million for transportation projects, including road repaving, sidewalks, bus shelters, traffic-calming measures and greenways; $25 million for affordable housing, including $15 million to repurpose city-owned land for affordable housing and $10 million for the city’s affordable housing trust fund; and $17 million for parks and recreation projects. Graphic assembled by Scott Southwick
BIG DECISIONS: Asheville voters will weigh in on three separate bond measures: $32 million for transportation projects, including road repaving, sidewalks, bus shelters, traffic-calming measures and greenways; $25 million for affordable housing, including $15 million to repurpose city-owned land for affordable housing and $10 million for the city’s affordable housing trust fund; and $17 million for parks and recreation projects. Graphic assembled by Scott Southwick

In seeking voters’ approval for a $74 million bond referendum, is the city of Asheville acting more like a prudent family taking out a long-term mortgage on a home — or an out-of-control consumer racking up discretionary purchases on a high-limit credit card?

“Some people say that all debt is bad, and you should just pay for everything that you can out of that year’s budget,” said Mayor Esther Manheimer at a debate on the bond referendum sponsored by the Asheville High School Speech and Debate Club on Oct. 1. “I would tell you, though, to make major infrastructure improvements, it is necessary to borrow, and general obligation bonds are the cheapest way to do that.”

One of Manheimer’s opponents in the debate, former chair of the Buncombe County GOP Chad Nesbitt, said handing the city a bigger credit card would be a mistake. “They don’t know how to budget like you families do,” Nesbitt told the audience of students, parents and civic-minded community members. “So now they have spent all our property taxes, crazy taxes, fees, and want us to give them $74 million and interest? Absolutely not.”

Manheimer offered three reasons why she believes Asheville should use general obligation bonds to finance major infrastructure investments: It’s a policy question that voters will decide, the city’s finances are in good order, and there will never be a better time to invest.

It’s up to you

According to Chapter 159, Article 4 of the North Carolina General Statutes, debt secured by the “full faith and credit” of a municipality by way of its property tax revenues requires voters’ approval through a ballot measure. This type of debt, which cities and towns may use to fund a wide variety of long-term assets, is known as general obligation financing.

Limited or special obligation financing, which is often secured by the municipal borrower’s physical assets, does not require the direct consent of the voters, but has a higher interest rate. Repayment of those loans comes from nonproperty tax revenue streams, including sales tax. Enterprise, or “revenue” debt, the repayment of which comes from revenues produced by amenities such as water and utility systems or parking decks, is rated separately, according to the financial health of the underlying business enterprise.

At the debate, Manheimer sparred with Nesbitt over how to compare “apples to apples” when assessing the city’s debt, which she pegged at $49 million currently. “Yes, there is additional debt,” she said in response to Nesbitt’s claim that the actual figure is $83 million, “but it’s in the water system and the one parking deck which we’ve still financed, which is supported not by taxpayers, but by fees.”

The referendum asks voters to weigh in on three separate bond measures: $32 million for transportation projects, which includes road repaving, sidewalks, bus shelters, traffic calming measures and greenways; $25 million for affordable housing, which includes $15 million in funding to repurpose city-owned land for affordable housing and a $10 million cash infusion to the city’s affordable housing trust fund; and $17 million for parks and recreation projects.

But Nesbitt argued, “Asheville taxpayers already pay hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes. … So when the City Council spends their money on things not in the budget [that] they are legally responsible for, they make a bond referendum and crazy things like a rain tax [referring to city stormwater fees].”

House in order?

Carl Mumpower, a former City Council member, joined Nesbitt in opposing the bond in the debate. Mumpower took issue with the mayor’s statement that the city’s finances are healthy. “When I left the Council in 2009 … we had double the reserve fund in percentages than we do now. I think y’all are down to the minimum in percentages because you spent every nickel you can get your hands on,” he charged.

Manheimer responded that, “Our rainy day fund exceeds 15 percent of our general fund. The state requirement is only 8 percent. We far exceed that. … It’s as healthy as it’s ever been currently.”

While Mumpower’s dates are slightly off, city Finance Director and CFO Barbara Whitehorn says it’s true the reserve fund used to be considerably larger as a percentage of the general fund. In 2007, she says, it was 27 percent of the general fund. Sometime after that, she explains, City Council made a management decision to draw down the general fund in order to put more of the city’s money to work for projects and other needs. By June 30, 2009, the reserve fund was 18.7 percent of the general fund, according to the city’s audited financial report for that year.

Former Vice Mayor Marc Hunt, the fourth debate participant, agreed that the city’s finances are in good shape: “Bond financing is a very normal and smart way for a healthy city, like Asheville is, to tend to its financial needs. Asheville’s plan is safe.”

“Asheville currently carries a debt load of $234 per person,” said Manheimer. According to a spreadsheet dated October 2016 provided by the N.C. Department of State Treasurer, Asheville had “no major deficiencies” and “no defaults noted.” 

If the bonds are approved, the state treasurer’s spreadsheet indicates that per capita debt will rise from $234 to $1,063. The average per capita debt of the state’s 10 largest cities — “of which we are one,” Manheimer noted — is $1,078 per person, the mayor said.

However, neither the state’s nor the mayor’s figures are up-to-date, clarifies Whitehorn. Asheville’s per capita debt was $234 from June 30, 2015, (the end of the city’s fiscal year) until June 26, 2016. On that date, the city retired $1 million of its $25 million debt and added $25 million more, for a total indebtedness of $49 million. Much of that debt pays for vehicles and equipment, she pointed out. One firetruck costs about $1.5 million, so those costs mount quickly, Whitehorn says.

The bottom line is that the current city per capita debt is actually $550, according to Whitehorn. (See sidebar, “Asheville’s current per capita debt higher than recent city claims”)

If the bonds are approved by voters, and if the city issues the entire $74 million in one lump sum (“Which we wouldn’t do,” says Whitehorn, explaining that the debt would be issued in chunks spread out over seven years), the per capita figure would jump to $1,378. She also points out that all the figures cited for other municipalities’ per capita debt loads are based on figures from June 30, 2015, so those also are likely to be out of date.

Pressed by Nesbitt to explain his statement that the city needs to catch up on infrastructure projects that have long been deferred, Hunt said, “Our city has a legacy of the crash of the 1920s and the fiscal difficulties that reigned ever since then [see “Asheville’s bond fears: The legacy of a financial nightmare” in this issue of Xpress]. And a very weak economy, leading up to about 20 years ago when things started rebuilding. When I came into office five years ago, we were on a 70-year cycle of repaving our city streets.”

The recommended target for street repaving, Hunt said, is 20 years. Currently, Asheville’s schedule is “about 40 years.”  If passed, Hunt continued, “I think this bond is going to help us take a leap toward 20. It probably won’t get us to 20.”

Mumpower shot back, “It would be my suggestion that when your road replacement schedule has been narrowed down to only being twice as long as it should be, your ship is not in order.” He also advised that city staff salaries are too high, “especially when you look at the community that we live in. We are not wealthy by the majority, especially the people who’ve lived here for some time.”

The time is now

“We have been extremely conservative, and some might argue, too conservative,” Manheimer said of the city’s financial status. “You do need to borrow to be able to make major infrastructure improvements and investments. And there is need. And that is why I believe the taxpayers so strongly support these bonds, as evidenced by the polling.”

While he declines to give an opinion on Asheville’s bond questions, Edward J. Lopez, a professor of economics at Western Carolina University, says that, as a general rule, “Using debt can be an important lever for the city.”

Mumpower, however, says he believes this is a risky and uncertain time to take on more debt. “On our horizon, there are some dark clouds. There are some concerns, serious concerns, all across the world, about where events are going to go — not unlike what happened to the city in the late ’20s and early ’30s. I don’t think the picture lends itself to high risk at this point.

“Are you aware of who’s running for president this year?” Mumpower continued. “Anybody who tracks the economies of the world and our spending — it’s a particularly dangerous time, and we have never talked about borrowing $76 [sic] million for the purposes for which this money is semi-dedicated.”

Though the state treasurer’s document indicates that the GO bond issue would be rated as AA+ by Standard & Poor’s and Aa1 by Moody’s, that Standard & Poor’s rating is incorrect, according to Whitehorn. She forwarded an Aug. 26, 2015, report from Standard & Poor’s showing that Asheville’s GO bond rating is AAA.

Nesbitt pointed out that the total bill for the bond would be far greater than $74 million. The interest the city pays on these bonds will be just under 3 percent, he said, “and the total amount of interest we pay will be around $36 million. The total debt will be around $110 million, not $74.”

Whitehorn agrees with Nesbitt’s interest figure, but clarifies that $36 million in interest payments represents what the city views as “the maximum amount we could spend.” According to Whitehorn, the Local Government Commission, which oversees debt issued by municipalities, reviewed Asheville’s financial projections when it considered the city’s application to place the bond questions on the ballot. The LGC, she says, signed off on $36 million as being the upper limit of future interest payments; the total could be lower in the end. But just as with a mortgage, she acknowledges, the total amount of interest over the lifetime of a long-term loan is significant.

A lot to consider

Hunt noted that the preference for “low taxes and low services” championed by Mumpower and Nesbitt is “a valid viewpoint” held by “many, many of our citizens” who oppose any increase in city taxes.

Hunt conceded that he wrestles with the gentrifying potential of large-scale investments that will improve the city’s infrastructure and amenities. “Asheville is so appealing fundamentally because of our natural surroundings and our architectural heritage. It represents a real challenge,” he said. He pointed to recent economic development success stories (including GE Aviation, Linamar, New Belgium Brewing and Avadim Technologies) as examples of the kinds of private-sector investment that smart public-sector funding can catalyze, saying, “If we put the brakes on improving and the employers faded away, that would be a shame.” All the same, he said, “It is going to be a constant challenge to address the unmet needs of underserved populations.” But, Hunt said, the current City Council is “very serious” about addressing those issues.

Asheville taxpayers will end up footing the bill for improvements that could benefit all of Western North Carolina, Hunt continued. “I regard the assets that are going to be invested in as community assets that extend well beyond the boundaries of downtown Asheville,” he explained.

Hunt also has concerns about some of the specific proposed projects. “Some of these projects were thrown together in a hurry,” he said. “Like spending $4 million at Memorial Stadium. I understand it’s decrepit, but it’s a single field with very little spectator interest, and I think it’s worth stepping back and re-examining all these projects to make sure the money is well-aimed and not spent if it doesn’t need to be.”

WCU economist Lopez agrees that it’s important to question whether the solutions proposed in the bond package are the best ways to accomplish the voters’ objectives, should the bonds be approved. He’s specifically concerned about the strategies to boost affordable housing. “The bond proposal includes spending an additional $10 million on direct subsidies to the marketplace. If voters do make it known in this election that affordable housing is a priority … the problem really needs to be solved by looking at the supply of housing, and doing what we can from a regulation standpoint to make that supply flexible to expand with new waves of population growth like we’ve been seeing. That will do more than anything to keep housing affordable.”

Matter of trust

Former Mayor and City Manager Ken Michalove approaches the bond question with deep skepticism. At a public presentation given by Manheimer on Oct. 10 at Ira B. Jones Elementary School, Michalove told Xpress he pointed out the composition of City Council is likely to change over the next seven years, the period in which the bond funds would be spent. Thus, Michalove said, Manheimer cannot guarantee how the money will be used.

Michalove also highlighted the city’s $110 million, five-year Capital Improvement Program budget, which will move forward regardless of whether the bond referendum passes. Michalove told Xpress that he does not trust current and possible future elected officials to use the CIP and bond referendum funds responsibly: “They can hide expenses, and there are not any watchdogs to bring it to the attention of the public.”

Distrust of city leadership was a note also sounded by Mumpower and Nesbitt in the debate. “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior,” Mumpower argued. “Asheville has a long track record of ignoring potholes, failing to uphold its street-replacement schedules, failing to fulfill affordable housing fantasies, wasting millions on development schemes that don’t happen, and creating public spaces and amenities that in turn we don’t maintain because we cannot afford to. We cannot trust this kind of government to be careful with our money.”

Mumpower told the audience the current City Council is “unilateral” and is made up only of Democrats. For the record, Council member Cecil Bothwell recently resigned from the Democratic Party and changed his registration to independent.

Comparing City Council to a “crackhead family member” who keeps asking for money, Nesbitt said, “You have to be responsible and accountable for your actions, and we as taxpayers have to stop giving money to those who are not responsible for our money.”

Tax impact

Whether the bond passes or not, Nesbitt said, higher property taxes are on the horizon. “In regards to the $74 million bond, the property tax increases will continue to drive out businesses and working-class renters, leaving only wealthy people who can afford to live in the city.”

According to the city website that outlines the bond proposal, issuing $74 million in GO bonds could require a property tax increase of 4.15 cents per $100 of taxable real estate value. “The upcoming revaluation could affect these estimates slightly,” the website advises, “but based on current rates, if approved, the bonds could increase property taxes in the city by about $110 a year, or a little more than $9 per month for a home valued at $275,000.” Manheimer pointed out during the debate that $275,000 is the average home value in the city.

Because GO bonds are supported by taxpayers, Manheimer said, the projects and spending are geographically distributed throughout the city. Mumpower disputed that claim, countering, “Look where the money is going. They can put it wherever they want to, but most of it is going to downtown Asheville and North Asheville. East, West and South are getting much more bill than benefit.” The city’s website includes an interactive project map that details both the proposed bond projects and Capital Improvement Program projects.

The GO bond referendums will appear on the back of Asheville voters’ ballots when early voting gets under way on Oct. 20. Voters will be asked to indicate their position on each of the three bond measures separately.

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About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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24 thoughts on “Asheville leaders and organizations weigh in on bond choice

  1. Deplorable Infidel

    I hope all these young struggling families voting in Asheville will have the forethought and the SENSE to Vote NO on this
    heinous bond SCAM !!!

    NO WAY do the incompetent City Council need $74 MILLION to manage…they get to pick and choose the unspecified projects for the next 7 years with the money…who will still be on council ? who will be Maoyor ? TOO MUCH RISK HERE…AVOID IT ! ! !

    The REAL COST is $110 MILLION with interest! $110 MILLION for you and YOUR children to REPAY! Property taxes may DOUBLE for many ! ! !

    • luther blissett

      Property speculator fails once again to understand how mortgages work, film at 11.

  2. The Real World

    Virginia – I have a couple of questions, if you happen to have any detail to offer.

    1) The “per capita debt” is rather interesting to me. It’s obviously based on something , I’m just wondering if that something is rational? What I mean is: in a household of 4, the total currentcity debt of that household is $2200. To me, that is more reasonable way to quote it. Because kids aren’t generally paying taxes (and, often, one spouse isn’t working outside the home either). That is the realistic number.

    Oh wait, but if taxes needed to go up, it’s not apportioned per capita but per property, correct? Which means single homeowners would bear more of that increase “per capita”(themselves) than the family of 4 would. Am I perceiving this accurately? If so, it’s all the more reason that it’s deceiving to assign the debt per person rather than per tax-paying entity. Do you know the reasoning behind quoting the debt per capita?

    2) Is it true that specifics haven’t been determined for each of these bonds? Meaning the bonds are attached to agreed upon lists of which roads would be repaved, where sidewalks would be built, what affordable housing projects would be built or contributed to, ETC?

    If that is true, then we are merely crossing our fingers about genuine need, intent and pragmatic decision-making. I’ve seen that particular movie before and despite all the glowing reviews it turned out to be a double-thumbs down (if you follow the analogy). Once burned, twice shy. I’d want to see a definitive list.

    • Virginia Daffron

      Hi The Real World,

      Thanks for your questions. On the first, my thoughts amount to speculation about why the per capita debt figure has been an oft-quoted one during the bond discussions. The per capita debt is a handy metric to evaluate a municipality’s level of indebtedness relative to other municipalities. Comparing different-sized cities’ and towns’ total debt is awkward and it’s hard to draw conclusions. Also, and this again is speculation, the $234 figure helped make a strong case that Asheville currently carries very little debt compared to other municipalities in N.C. It turns out not to be the right figure, of course, but then again, it may not be totally fair to compare the updated figure against outdated totals from other municipalities (which are all that are available).

      Of course you are right that debt by household might be a more meaningful measure, but as a practical matter, I don’t think that data is easily obtainable.

      On your second question, it is true that the funds can be reallocated within their respective categories. The examples cited are just that, examples of the types of projects that might be funded. As I understand it, the law allows flexibility because, once final planning has been done, projects might turn out to be infeasible, too expensive or no longer needed in their original form (since the projects will be carried out over seven years).

      Virginia

      • The Real World

        Thanks for the info.

        “Comparing different-sized cities’ and towns’ total debt is awkward and it’s hard to draw conclusions.”
        — let’s dig a bit on this. Seems it would be far easier to tabulate property records any given month than to discern population. A decent approximation of population can be made, but until a person changes their driver’s license or registers to vote — they could live here a long while, or have left, before it shows up in official records. Not to mention that a family or group of 3, 4 or more could be living in a rental but only 1 person, the owner, is directly paying the taxes on that property. Yet the city debt load is quoted per capita.

        Very, very often….the answer to something is quite simple. So, barring better info, I’m going to call this like I see it. Municipalities quote per capita because it looks better. It looks cheaper. But it’s very deceptive and inaccurate. So much for transparency in government (not that I had any illusions of that).

        “once final planning has been done, projects might turn out to be infeasible, too expensive or no longer needed in their original form (since the projects will be carried out over seven years)” — yes, these points are valid. But, wow, does that leave the door open for plenty of pork barrel spending and so often that amounts to waste and frivolousness (see Cecil’s example about the dumb, and fancy, city garages)

        Although it’s more effort, I think it better to put forth these bonds and projects in separate years so that taxpayers can understand them better, hold council more accountable and not have council go slap happy when a huge pile of money flows in quickly. Been down that road before and the results can be very costly in so many ways! (Ahem…the nightmare that is Bowen Bridge).

        • luther blissett

          “Municipalities quote per capita because it looks better. It looks cheaper. But it’s very deceptive and inaccurate.”

          Per capita income is a legitimate data point in measuring the relative strength of municipal or metropolitan economies, along with other variables like employment / unemployment, average salaries, property tax base, population growth trends, etc. After all, the investors buying the bonds have to do their own due diligence as much as the cities issuing them.

          As for transparency and accountability: let’s see a commitment from City Council to issue monthly reports. Maybe the Code for Asheville people can make nice graphs from that data. San Antonio’s done that with its bond program: http://www.sanantonio.gov/TCI/Projects/Bond-Status-Projects-Dashboard which shows which projects have gone off-schedule with an explanation of why.

          • The Real World

            As you know, ‘Per capita income’ is not what’s being discussed here.

            Per capita debt is deceiving to the voters. And it seems that number is all over the board. Mc Credie’s link below has yet a different number than the debt numbers Council can’t seem to get clear on.

            A more accurate measure would be per property debt (and include only the ones that DO pay taxes)

    • “2) Is it true that specifics haven’t been determined for each of these bonds?”

      G.S. 159-48 (a) and (b), determines what what a city can use bond financing for.
      http://bit.ly/2dwk0tI

      However, the bond referendum is not binding. Funds can be moved around by a vote of council.

      “The mayor confirmed that, within each given bond category, it is ‘technically possible’ to repurpose monies for projects other than the ones officially listed in the bond questions, but said, “A lot of people are concerned about this and I wish there were some way that we didn’t have that flexibility.” She said she stands by her position that the bond moneys should go directly to the specified projects, with no substitutions…’Councils and managers change,’ Michalove said. He asked the audience ‘Are you willing to write a blank check to people you don’t know, that have the types of special interests that are currently funded or in the future the latest social fad or need?'”
      http://bit.ly/2dLfXWB

      North Carolina General Statutes
      Chapter 159: Local Government Finance.
      Article 4 – Local Government Bond Act.
      G.S. 159-48. Local Government Financing.
      § 159-48. For what purposes bonds may be issued.
      (g) Bonds for two or more unrelated purposes, not of the same general class or character, shall not be authorized by the same bond order. However, bonds for any of the purposes listed in any subdivision of any subsection of this section shall be deemed to be for one purpose and may be authorized by the same bond order. In addition, nothing herein may be deemed to prohibit the combining of purposes from any of such paragraphs and the authorization of bonds therefor by the same bond order to the extent that the purposes are not unrelated.
      http://bit.ly/2dwk0tI

      • Lulz

        And you and I both know that the money will be diverted elsewhere that is of no use while we see more fees and bigger tax increases.

        Bothwell below just admitted to everyone his time in council HAS BEEN AN ABJECT FAILURE. People like him have turned government into nothing more than a money racket for the few. But the problem is that all the neglect and decay eventually becomes too much to hide. And so we get the excuse that there wasn’t enough tax money collected. Yet with 2 decades of growth here, where was all this new money going? Or was it even been collected to begin with? Oh I know, let’s get McKibbon to pay a little since they seem to be the downtown hotel monopoly here. Must be all those backroom deals.

  3. For the record: I supported sending these three bond ideas to the voters of Asheville and look forward to being able to act on the results. I voted today and voted to approve the Transportation and Parks&Rec bonds and voted against the Affordable Housing bond.
    I know the housing bond is well intentioned, but deeply question both the success of Asheville in boosting affordability, and a proposal that accounts for a big chunk of the housing bond. Removing the existing garages and other City facilities on Charlotte St. to make room for “affordable” housing sounds great, and from my perspective the City ought never to have put garage space that close to downtown, when eventual development would have been easy to foresee. But an estimated $14-15 million to relocate seems like an enormous cost, both financially and environmentally. I think this idea was cooked up too quickly and with too little analysis. So I voted no.

    • henry

      With your no vote on the housing bond, why did you think the other two were worthy of support?

    • ApePeeD

      Huh, that’s interesting, that’s exactly the two I voted for and the one I voted against.

      • luther blissett

        I’ve already made the case here that bond funding is the wrong vehicle for affordable housing investment unless it involves building new public housing, which is mostly off the table these days. The city shouldn’t put itself in a position of a mortgage provider; expanding the Trust Fund increases risk without adequate recourse; the relocation of the fleet facility is a “back of the napkin” concept with too many steps along the way that could go wrong. You don’t borrow capital improvement money to lend it to others.

        Ultimate responsibility for the other components remains with City Council. There needs to be transparency in how it’s allocated, what the timetables are for each project, and a series of phases and pauses with public feedback to assess what’s been achieved, ideally ahead of elections. All of this should be easy to provide.

    • Lulz

      Here’s a better thought Bothwell. Go get the money from the illegals since your stance on wanting to be a sanctuary city is well known. After all, considering many don’t pay any taxes, not even vehicle taxes since they register them in neighboring states, don’t need to be citizens to receive benefits though, and in all reality are only a boon to the construction and landscape industries as low wage slaves which helps YOUR FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS, surely you can get them to pay their fair share? Of course not. After all they are the new Americans who don’t have to pay anything.

      • luther blissett

        “Lulz” remains a living example of spittle-flecked purposeful ignorance. It must be a very boring existence once you’ve decided that everything’s a fix and cronied up and ALL CAPS something something.

  4. Due to the unwillingness of past Councils (going back to the 20th Century) to raise taxes and catch up on re-paving Asheville has fallen way behind on asphalt and sidewalks. When we did an analysis fairly recently we found that we were on something like a 70 year repaving cycle (40 on some major streets), when the standard should be 20-30 years. We have played some catch-up with our Capital Improvement Project budget, but are unable to catch up without more funds. Then too, we have some great Greenway plans that can be advanced (particularly along the Swannanoa River reaching out to the Azalea Park Soccer Complex). I think all of that justifies the Transit Bond.

    Parks and Rec has been another victim of penny-wise, pound-foolish spending. We have rec centers that need upgrades, we could use more park space. The plans “shovel ready” seem to me to warrant the Parks Bond.

    • Lulz

      LOL, that so you are full of it made my screen turn brown. Let’s see here. If you’re so behind on infrastructure, why are you funding the RAD, the art museum, non-profits, the Chamber of Commerce, tourism, while taking services away that were the norm in the 20th century, etc? WHY ARE YOU NOT COLLECTING TAXES ON THE LARGEST LANDHOLDERS IN THE CITY? Hello Biltmore with your low wages. Or Mission that is buying up an incredible amount of property. Also you can be truthful and admit that when property values tank yet the taxes don’t go down, THAT IS AN EFFING TAX INCREASE. You only have so much money to spend like, and I know this is a shock to you, everyone else. You either spend it on roads or your friends. And your friends are getting pretty damn fat. Except for Bellamy who has a fluff job in, and this is another shocker, one of your non-profit scams.

      You’ve had over 2 decades in council yet you claim that infrastructure spending is way behind. Is it because the money wasn’t there? Or is it because people like you simply spent the money elsewhere? Either way, YOUR TIME THERE HAS BEEN A FAILURE. You have not accomplished anything especially considering the years of economic growth downtown and the river and the need for even more money from those who simply reside here while they lose services and are charged fees for what was once payed for by taxes. Yet the money is diverted to areas that are no benefit to the residents. Here’s a thought; go to those people that have made comfy livings with government help and get the money back that should’ve never been given to them in the first place. And stop your fluff bond BS under the guise of needing more money while more and more get freebies from you.

      • Lulz

        Bothwell, next time you run please put on a billboard that the residents of the city haven’t payed enough and that’s what you’re running on. Let’s see how far you go. Especially when one uses 5 bucks worth of water and is charged 90 bucks in fees. That’s how ignorant your post is. You’re banking on gentrification taking over and wealthier people moving here who don’t care to pay a lopsided water bill like that. But even they eventually will be gentrified out as YOUR spending is simply out of control. And you need to bribe more people to relocate here with there shiny new hotels and breweries even though they wages stagnate and you need even more infrastructure because people have to drive 50 miles to find a place to live.

      • luther blissett

        “WHY ARE YOU NOT COLLECTING TAXES ON THE LARGEST LANDHOLDERS IN THE CITY?”

        More spittle? What a surprise. Were you not whining and whining and whining and whining and whining and whining and whining about the county reassessment next year? What other mechanism is there to see what Biltmore and Mission’s property empires are worth, along with the various beneficiaries of the downtown boom? Magic? Entrails?

        ” is it because people like you simply spent the money elsewhere? ”

        YES IT’S SPENT ON COPS AND FIREFIGHTERS BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE. How many EFFING times do you need telling before it penetrates your skull? Call 911, get some cops on the line, ask how much they are paid and where that money comes from. Because last time I checked COPS DON’T WORK FOR FREE.

        Here’s a thought: there are city elections next year, and filing to run is cheap.

        Stop whining about your conspiracy theories and CORRUPTION and staring at your crazy wall with pins and STRING connecting all of the nefarious insiders who have personally CONSPIRED in darkened rooms to make you pay an EXTRA TWENTY (20) DOLLARS for a city vehicle permit.

        Put up or shut up. And grow up.

  5. Biltmore isn’t in ANY city (nice bit of legislative legerdemain)
    Me on Council for two decades?
    “Illegals” don’t get benefits. In fact, undocumented workers who fake SS#s are paying into your benefits without any hope of getting them for themselves.
    The point of a Bond Referendum is to let citizens DECIDE whether they want to pay a little more to get more done sooner.
    Sometimes it is better to remain quiet and have people think you are ignorant instead of posting proof.

  6. luther blissett

    The interest the city pays on these bonds will be just under 3 percent, [Nesbitt] said, “and the total amount of interest we pay will be around $36 million. The total debt will be around $110 million, not $74.”

    But not $110m in 2016 dollars. Like a mortgage, the final payments will be lower in real terms because of inflation. (Yes, this means that project costs will increase in nominal dollars over time, but that’s why you front-load spending where possible.) Conflating real and nominal dollars is just dumb, but coming from Nesbitt that’s to be expected.

  7. I never imagined writing this but Bothwell did something useful. By posting his early vote I was able to cancel him out. As if he never voted.

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