For starters: According to Greensboro City Council meeting minutes from January 21, 2014, the City of Greensboro already has $134 Million Dollars in voter approved bonds which took effect on November 4, 2008 with which to repair city streets. (Page 28) So if the City of Greensboro already has $134 Million does it need more? Has the City done $134 Million in street repairs since January? In the cold? Was that money spent on something else-- the Aquatic Center perhaps? Did someone embezzle it? Are they planning on spending it elsewhere, like say the Downtown Greenway which according to Mary Vigue of the City of Greensboro is short $10.5 Million Dollars. Either we've got $134 Million or we don't have $134 Million-- which is it?
And if we already have $134 Million then why are we raising taxes now? Why weren't taxes raised when we borrowed the money?
Yes, I'm confused because the City staff and City Council have both failed to paint a clear picture of exactly what is being done with your money. Will this now push Greensboro to being the undisputed, highest taxed city in North Carolina?
And then this morning I get this letter from a reader titled, Potholes for Pensions
"In public choice theory there is a proposition known as Potholes for Pensions. How about that!
Potholes for Pensions is applicable on several levels but here is the basic premise:
(1) politicos promise public employees largess pensions and other retirement benefits (post retirement health insurance). These promises create a “claim” against the future tax revenue stream of the political taxing authority granting such benefit. More succinctly, a claim against taxpayers and the taxpayer’s ability to create such tax revenue stream.
(2) the benefits accumulate and accelerate over time with every change of politicos. That is, the never ending line of politicos perpetuate and enhance the benefits to retain and increase the previously built political constituency (public employees). There becomes a larger and larger claim against the tax revenue stream of the political taxing authority granting such benefit. Smaller and smaller amounts of the tax revenue stream is/becomes available for everyday limited government activities such as police, fire and infrastructure.
Note: the pension is a political constituency building program with other people’s money as public sector workers are going to vote for more taxes to focus benefit upon themselves (it's rational) and the sponsoring politico who focuses the benefit.
(3) now comes the insidious part. The politico purposely allows infrastructure to deteriorate at the expense of their other spending activities (pet projects) beyond the pension phenomena. Hence the pension phenomena claims more and more of the tax revenue stream and politicos then add their pet projects (political constituency building exercises) atop the pension phenomena that claims yet more of the revenue stream. The politico then frames the deteriorated infrastructure as “proof positive” tax rates are too low. Yes, too low. Taxes must be raised to repair/improve the infrastructure!
Potholes for Pensions is not only public choice theory, it is public choice reality: ask San Bernardino, California and Detroit, Michigan taxpayers.
Considering the proposition that politicos purposely allow infrastructure to deteriorate at the expense of their other spending activities to prove taxes are too low…what if you don’t pay more taxes? Potholes! The infrastructure deterioration becomes the "seen" and the "unseen" is the increasing-at-an-increasing-rate of claim against the revenue stream by the other less noticeable activities. Everyone sees the infrastructure in disrepair but few see the other activities causing the deterioration. The politico frames taxes are too low as one can surely see that the low taxes have caused the deteriorated infrastructure! When in fact the tax rate is likely too high given the unseen activities. Had the police, fire and infrastructure been funded first then the deterioration would not have occurred. Lo and behold the real case is that, police, fire and infrastructure become funded last at the expense of the unseen.
It becomes more insidious. No way! Way!
It’s a cycle! Taxes increase, and after some high visibility infrastructure “fixes”, the increased tax revenue is funneled off to pet politico projects...and we begin the cycle again."
Could it be my reader has a very clear picture of what is going on in Greensboro government despite my confusion? I can't say for certain as I remain paved and confused.