Saturday, April 23, 2016

#Davidson Budget 2017 - Will taxpayers ever see relief from Mi-Connection?

Davidson Commissioners meet this coming Tuesday for a packed work session agenda.

Conflicts of interest has been a hot topic here recently at aShortChronicle.  Commissioner Jenest has asked to be recused from votes twice in recent months regarding his involvement in the West Branch Project.

A review of that topic by soon-to-be-former Town Attorney Rick Kline will be covered in the 4pm "pre-meeting". The town put out an RFP for Kline's replacement back in February with responses due in early March. Per the Town Clerk last week, 6 responses were received, but there is no time frame for a decision.

Let's hope when they eventually do decide on a new municipal attorney, they will find someone without their own conflict of interest issues to advise the town.  In his private real estate law practise Kline has regularly advised major developers in town over the years - a situation that often raises eyebrows.

Having him advise Commissioners on the subject always has more than a hint of irony to it.

In the main meeting which starts at 6pm, Commissioners will have two discussions on major financial topics.

First, they'll hear a presentation from their "Bond Counsel", law firm Parker Poe.  This will cover the General Obligation  (GO) bond process.

Interestingly, the agenda item mentions covering "education vs advocacy".  Government officials (elected or staff) are not allowed to advocate for voter approval of GO bonds. It is actually illegal for them to do so.  They can only educate.   When GO bonds were discussed by the town's bankers March, they had to be reminded of that fact.   At the time Mayor Woods made a comment that typically a non profit does the advocacy to get around that law.

Once the Commissioners get through their bond coaching session, they'll take the first in depth public look at the next budget.

The most interesting thing that jumps out is the town commitment to Mi-Connection.   The town still has the $1 million per year that has been there for the past few years.  However, this year it appears the town will no longer be setting aside any money to fund its unfunded additional obligation to Mooresville on its Mi-Connection debt.

Under the current agreement, Davidson pays up to $1m per year toward its 30% portion of the cable company subsidy.  Mooresville covers the rest.  To date Mooresville has covered a little over $1.7m for Davidson.  At the same time, Davidson has been setting aside money each year to pay back Mooresville at some point in the future.  That account is now up to $1m.

In this current fiscal year (FY2016) Davidson dropped that payment from $300,000 a year to $100,000.  In FY2017 it will go to $0.

Effectively, over 2 budget cycles Commissioners will have freed up $300,000 in general fund revenue from Mi-Connection.  Yet, none of that will be returned to the taxpayers who have been subsidizing Mi-Connection.

Instead, Commissioners will have spent it and will be going to voters to ask for more in the form of more debt and more taxes.

Click HERE for the whole agenda this coming Tuesday.

1 comment:

  1. Government rarely gets smaller. Even if Huntersville were to free up money this year by not funding any Special Appropriations, they would only find another way to spend that money. No politician or town staff member ever says - we saved money, good, now it needs to be returned from whence it came.