Raleigh taxpayers have been denied a vote on two-thirds of the $1.2 billion in new debt run up by city leaders over the last decade. Per this N&O article, some taxpayers are seeking to change that trend, and require voter approval over all debt issued by the city.
A conservative political group is suing Raleigh in an effort to change how the city borrows money.
Raleigh officials should be required to get permission from voters to take on additional debt, the Wake County Taxpayers Association contends.
The group says its effort comes after a decade in which Raleigh accumulated $1.2 billion in debt while giving voters a say in less than one-third of that total.
Naturally, outgoing Raleigh mayor Meeker doesn’t like the idea of allowing any voice to taxpayers who will actually be the ones footing the bill.
On Tuesday, Mayor Charles Meeker said Raleigh has responsibly managed its finances. If voters disagree, he said, they get an opportunity to elect different City Council members every two years.
“He’s been talking about this concept for years,” Meeker said. “It’s not something I agree with.”
But Mayor Meeker, city council members can run up a high tab in two years. And taxpayers are left paying that tab, regardless of the election results.
Later in the article, the N&O reporter (always eager to side with the political class) attempts to assure readers that Raleigh’s city debt is not that bad.
The city’s total debt is $1.38 billion – four times what it was a decade ago. The borrowed money paid for road improvements, water and sewer plants, parks and greenways and a new downtown convention center.
But only about 10 percent of the city’s general governmental fund goes to pay the general fund debt service – a smaller percentage than in Charlotte, Winston-Salem or Greensboro.
Not included in the $1.38 billion figure is the interest payments owed on the debt. According to the state Treasurer’s office local government debt spreadsheet, adding interest payments adds another billion dollars to that total, increasing the total obligation by 73%. With a population of roughly 404,000, this debt obligation averages out to just under $24,000 for a family of four. Not an insignificant chunk of change hanging around the necks of Raleigh taxpayers. The article’s author also makes sure to state that debt payments make up such a small percentage of the city’s annual budget, but fails to note that these annual debt payments more than doubled in just the last five years.
I’ve written multiple times on the state’s need to ensure voter approval over new debt. The same need applies to city debt as well.
Leave a Comment