Comment on Facebook article: County Debt Tripled in the Last Seven Years, the Board Undeterred: Budget Passes
The details of the bond history in the county reports mostly consist of "refunding prior issues". So I'd come to county board meetings speaking about what I thought was wasteful spending and adding to the debt.
Yet since 2006 the bond debt has tripled from $54 to $167 million. I know, it's huge... and this is all posted in the 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, page 130 to be exact (see pic 2):
First thing you may think is "surely our roads are seeing massive improvements"; however, from the 2012 performance Measures & Indicators Report we see a sharp 6% down trend in the average pavement condition index over this last seven year period (see pic 3).
(Bid awarded to Hardrives inc on the July 6, 2010 county board meeting there is no digital record)
The biggest project proposed is the $17.5 million dollar Public Works North Maintenance Shop Improvement. I asked Wayne Sandberg, Deputy Public Works Director for more details on the plan. However he forwarded my request to the Assistant County Attorney Rick Hodsdon to file a data practice act. Mr Hodsdon said my question to see "a breakdown on the cost for the expansion" was too general and "editorial in nature." So I e-mailed the Public Works Director Don Theisen to ask for any info he might have on the project and I didn't get a response from him. I did get a second e-mail from the County Attorney stating he has to be the primary contact and I'd have to come in to his office to review the plans.
I asked the board if they realized this $17.5 million dollar estimate is same cost estimate to build the twice as large 90,000 sq foot Bielenberg sports center. That cost includes the building and the indoor field, 200 seat restaurant, splash pad, ice rink, 18 outdoor fields, and more!
Nevertheless, the fact I can't object to the specific excessive costs in this $17.5 million dollar project due to a small number of resistant county heads is a revelation on the greater problem.
We have County projects such as this one and others like the Red Rock Corridor: running their own requests; conducting their own survey's and studies; interpreting them; and reporting the results to you who secure their funding.
Red rock corridor planners deceive the public to secure funding
Some county heads resist tax payer requests to see the books
What we do have is $167 million in debt with this CIP proposing adding $37.5 million more to it and assurances from our county board they are running a fiscally responsible budget. Yet in just 2006 (est) Ramsey county, who now has double our property taxes (see pic), also had about $167 million in debt (p. 195 and subtract 2007 debt). Our current debt level shouldn't match a neighboring county's 2006 debt when they have twice our population. Yet our debt per capita is almost twice theirs
More to come on these excessive projects. Please contact our County County Commissioners and ask them to stop putting us in unsustainable debt. We can roll back the budgets on the projects and still provide the needed maintenance and repair to our infrastructure.