I was pleasantly surprised when I opened my copy of the Victoria Advocate and saw the headline “ Analysis shows Victoria’s debt stands at the manageable level” by Melissa Crowe. Coincidentally, this feature story appeared on the first day of early voting.
Melissa presented an in -depth analysis of our manageable $167.5 million debt and not some uninformed formula like dividing the debt by the population and posting a bill for every resident in our city. The fallacy of that formula is that everyone knows that in the first years of the debt, the interest will be more than the principal, assuring the lender that they won’t get stuck for the entire amount of the loan. If I' d told my family (after signing the papers for our first home) ,guys each of you have a $6000 debt, the kids would have gone out to play, and my wife would have continued washing the dishes. It’s the same way at the local level.Taxpayers have enough information to tell the difference between a scare tactic and a legitimate concern. It comes down to the taxpayer’s level of trust.
Tom Halepaska brought up an interesting point when he said”previous city councils passed the buck on several high-dollar projects.” That’s an age-old problem I’ve been talking about for years where one administration will promise to lower your property taxes, but they don’t tell you that in order to do that, they will have to ignore needed infrastructure repair. If it gets too bad that same administration will raise fees or put in some toll roads because they promised not to raise your taxes. It’s one of those “pay me now or pay me later.”
I finally watched the candidate's televised forum which separated the polished from the amateurs and ideology driven ones. For example, the mayor’s segment, Andrew Deases was way out of his elements, sometimes looking for random words to fill in his allotted time. The incumbents had the clear advantage when it came to answering the questions. Quality of life means lower property tax rates for a couple of candidates, one said he was a Constitutionalist and didn’t favor a partnership between government and the private sector. He used a common buzzword in saying that the government shouldn't be “picking winners and losers.” I thought Tom Halepaska had the zinger of the evening when he told Tom Pruitt had he submitted ten amendments to the council, and the taxpayers rejected all ten.
Melissa Crowe’s great article will not impact the ideological driven mindset, but it will put things into a better financial concept. There is nothing wrong with thinking that $98 million worth of general obligation debt is scary because everyone’s level of trust is different. When ill-conceived theories are submitted to distort general accepted principals then it’s the home-town newspaper obligation to put out the facts before people get led astray.
I’m glad the distinction between the federal government, and the local one has been explained because too many people couldn’t tell the difference. On the federal side, people's principals change when their side gets in office, and they seem to have short memories. It’s amazing that the same Republicans who ran away from President Bush for four years are singing his glory today. The facts haven’t changed, but memories have. It shouldn’t be that way on the local level but there will always be a few who will try to force their ideology on the gullible.