It is an unusaly move, but it’s certainly a welcome one.
Wendell Town Manager Teresa Piner proposed a unique method of paying for the town’s capital needs next year during the first of what will surely be several budget meetings.
Piner said commissioners could borrow all the money the town needs to fund its most important capital needs. That’s normally an expense that is paid for through more traditional revenues such as taxes, fees and grants.
But Piner explained that because the town has such a small amount of existing debt – only about $400,000 – it could borrow as much as $2.3 million and pay that money back without increasing property taxes.
Commissioners had relatively few questions about the proposal, which seemed to have already received the blessing of Mayor Tim Hinnant who had already previewed the plan. Perhaps more teling, though, is that the town commissioners didn’t immediately dismiss the idea of borrowing money to meet current, one-time needs.
Following this path meets several goals for commissioners. It allows them to tell voters they did not raise taxes during the budget process, a key component for anyone seeking elected office. It also allows the town to invest significant resources into several projects that have lagged for some time because of their large price tag.
If Wendell hopes to keep pace with growth and the quality of services residents expect, they must invest in the town’s infrastructure and they must protect the town’s current assets.
More importantly, borrowing money in this fashion does not prevent the town from considering a bond referendum later on down the road when commissioners decide it’s finally time to move into a new town hall.
We are pleased with the aggressive, forward-thinking attitude commissioners are taking. It would be all too easy to bemoan corporate poverty, commissioners have not chosen to do that so far. Instead, if they OK Piner’s reccommendation, they will be investing solidly in the town’s future.