Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Releasing the Bonds

I was going to wait until after Election Day to post this, but now might be a better time to get some attention. Not because I am under the delusion that my voice would actually influence a vote, but more that I think it’s time to turn the page on a common practice with public agencies.

Presently when places like the Fair Grounds, the College, Libraries, Fire Stations, and even the County Jail want to make a big mortar and brick addition to their holdings they usually present the voters with a bond issue to vote on. Sure I’m going to sound like a cranky old guy about how much these measures have raised my taxes over the years, but I have to admit that I’ve voted for all of them. I am supporting college bond on the ballot this November.

I’m starting to think that bond measures are the fast and dirty ways to raise money, leaving tax payers on the hook often until the improvement we are paying for is obsolete. What ever happened to saving for a project? Responsible people have to do it all the time. People save to repair their homes. They save to buy boats and cars and homes. They save for vacations. Sure, we were able to get zero down loans which proved to be disastrous for many.

Why can’t agencies funded the public save for future expansion? Why can’t they plan things in twenty-year increments? I do understand that some public budgets do not allow carry over funds from year to year, but why not create a Foundation? I know the College has a foundation that commits its money to fund scholarships and some can be used for minor technical purposes, but why can’t they start right now saving for another update fifty years from now? Why can’t firehouses have foundations that have fund raisers and invest their monies for future equipment or expansion?

A Foundation would make it easier for people to give gifts in their wills. A public entity could watch the progress of their Foundations dollars and the excitement will build more funds toward the purchases they desire to make. Most of all it will take the local tax payers off the hook. It will show the real community support and can make projects even more popular than they would have been if they just showed up on the ballot.

We are becoming tax saturated. Each issue that passes makes it harder for future issues to pass. The public can only bear so much burden of the well intentioned public entities. I wouldn't mind if we became a fully Socialist country where all of our needs would be met, but death by 1000 cuts is a bad idea.


Blogger darev2005 said...

The foundations idea seems sound but you know someone will abuse it and the whole idea will go into the dumper again. Then we'll need a big federal bailout of the foundations and more taxes for us again. We need some savant like the guy from "A Beautiful Mind" to get on the case and find a solution.

8:38 AM  
Blogger richpix said...

Do you suppose there's some reason the CCC's existing foundation couldn't be used for this purpose?

Here's an alternate idea: Let the companies contracted to do the work on the new building do it at cost and get a tax write-off for the balance. Same deal for the providers of materials used in construction. Sort of an old-fashioned barn raising for a new era.

Surely there's some good way to get the "community" involved in the community college.

3:31 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Darev, there have to be safe guards and a written mission statement.

Rich, they must use the monies for the purpose stated when they collected it or they have to go by what the donors request it be used for. 501(c)3s cant bait and switch. Also I've seen the barn raising idea work for churches and victims of disasters, but good will for public institutions is often hard to come by especially when the projects price range is in the multi millions.

5:36 AM  

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