Taxpayers point to deceit involved with upcoming bond referendum
Growing opposition may derail much ballyhooed $2 billion in borrowing
NORTH CAROLINA — In a recent video, “Connect NC” wants us to pass the bond to find out what is in it! In a second video from a meeting of the Stanly County Commissioners during their consideration of a pro- “Connect NC” $2 billion debt increase resolution, it is acknowledged by bond supporters that the multimillion dollar projects of the bond will NOT be made known until AFTER the bond is approved!
On Tuesday evening, Feb. 16th, the Executive Board of the Wake County Taxpayers Association thoroughly discussed and chose to oppose passage of the March 15 bond referendum for “so called improvements,” once again to state universities and community colleges with limited detail on how the money would be spent.
We, the taxpayers of North Carolina “deserve better than that” from bond proponents.
The position expressed by the Wake County Taxpayers Association was melded when learning that the proponents were deceitful — road and transportation infrastructure improvements are not in the bond proposal.
The WCTA is asking its members to reject the bond proposal and pass this message to friends, relatives across the State.
The WCTA Executive Board went a bit further and expressed an interest in showing the membership “good opposition material.”
Taxpayers should read an article by state legislator Mark Brody, currently elected NC State Representative District 55, to understand the concerns and deceit:
The university system plans to delay — until after the referendum — a report containing critical information otherwise needed by the voters to make an informed decision.
Here is some of the latest data directly university website:
1. Eight of the campuses receiving $679 million total have increased student population over the last six years, but at a paltry rate, most less than 2 percent total for the six-year period, two campuses growing less than 1 percent total over the last six years (2010-15).
2. The other five campuses receiving $246 million total have lost student population over the last six years, the least by 1.05 percent and the highest by 24 percent.
3. The classroom vacancy rate for the eight campuses increasing student population ranges from 26.8 percent to 53.8 percent and the lab vacancy rate ranges from 24.1 percent to 41.9 percent.
4. The classroom vacancy rate for the five campuses decreasing in student population ranges from 31.8 percent to 51.6 percent and the lab vacancy rate ranges from 23.9 percent to 47.3 percent.
In light of the four points above, it begs the question, “With the slow to no-growth rate in student populations and with the high vacancy rates in both classroom and labs, why are we adding in the range of 2,000 to 2,500 new seats to our system at a cost of nearly $900 million to the taxpayer (about $36,000 per seat)?”
It would appear we have several years’ of classroom and lab capacity without building in all our campuses.
In addition, because the data does not completely reflect a totally accurate picture, we have to give a moment to the changing definition of “student population.”
The above data takes into account that everyone who signs up as a student is counted as a student, but an ever-increasing number of students may not ever set foot on campus (virtual students) or may go one day a week for one or two classes at a time (many of these students utilize classroom and lab space during the evening hours when the demand is less).
Also, as a result of legislation passed in 2014, students now can take the first two years of a university education at a community college, which will further reduce the student count. If you subtract the part-time students, virtual students and those who will choose the community college option from the total, it may show that there isn’t a single campus in the system increasing in student population.
To justify building more classrooms and labs, student population must be increasing. It appears it is not, “…and the borrower is servant to the lender.” NC households have to prioritize their finances rather than acquiring large debts for every need or want. Legislators should learn to do the same. Let’s send a strong message that the borrow mentality must stop by voting AGAINST the $2 billion bond on March 15.
Commission candidates on $2 Billion bond: “I’ve been fed that dish before,” Bowles said. “I can’t buy it. I can’t even rent it.” Scottie Brown agreed with that assessment. “Let’s save some money. This is $2 billion,” he said. “Agriculture is not getting anything. Zero.” . . . “I just don’t believe they have good enough accountants to keep track of it,” he said. Travis Elliott said claims that 8 percent of the bond revenues would go to agricultural projects were misleading. “We shouldn’t be used as a pawn in this game,” he said, aligning himself with the farmers in the crowd.
As mentioned in our paper last week, the U.S. economy is soft, according to Janet Yellin, chairperson of the Federal Reserve. She recently testified that negative interest rates might be needed in order to spur economic growth. So with that in mind, should the taxpayers of North Carolina approve borrowing $2 billion?