Thursday, July 7, 2011

County bond debt really $1 billion

You know I make a lot of jokes about how the administration is running scared of the big bad bogey man called "debt."

(I'd link to some of my previous posts about it, but, well, I'm too lazy. I encourage you to read the archives anyway.)

Anyhoo, the administration always reports it as $628.5 million. But, it's actually more. Try $1,057,700,000, according to a long-term debt obligation worksheet I asked the finance office to send over because I'm bored. Yeah, that's just over one BILLION dollars. If you include bonds issued for pension plans, capital projects, P-card reimbursements (OK, kidding on that last one), then the total principal comes to $691.2 million. Then throw in another $366.5 million in interest, and you're on the hook for some mega-coin.

Granted, this is scratch that will be paid off over the long-term. But they payments represent 10 percent of the county budget. (So, let's hope that county Mayor Tim Burchett keeps his campaign promise about not assuming more debt in the near future. Personally, I think he will, although he has an escape clause for Carter Elementary.

But, still, if I was running the show - and I'm not only because the News Sentinel pays me way to much money to quit and run for mayor (oh, and no one would vote for me anyway) - I wouldn't be selling the whole $628 million debt thing.

Hell, no. I'd be telling everyone we owe a BILLION.

But, that's just me. What do I know?

That's my free advice to the administration for today. Tomorrow, I'll figure out a way to kick them in the nads.


Anonymous said...

You just figured this out? Good Lord, why do you think getting the hell rid of Ragsdale was so important?

No offense Mike, but why do you think people hate the KNS so much? This happened without a sound from your paper. If the KNS had done their job this clusterfuck could have been stopped.

You want to do something real? Report about the interest only bonds. I forget but it is about $20 million for Hardin Valley in interest only bonds. You need to factor that into your numbers.

The KNS treat Tim Burchett like an idiot savant. The truth is he understands how dangerous this debt is.

Do something other than blog in a place no one can see it. This is a tree falling in a forest where no one is around. No sound is made.

Anonymous said...

I don't hate the KNS and I don't even complain about the amount of our debt but I do wish like hell you would ask the questions about why some of our debt is written via the Blount PBA when we have our own PBA. And how much do we pay Blount county for this privilege? I am not talking about how much we pay Morgan Keegan or TN-Loans or anyone else. I want to know what we pay Blount County for this service. The rest of the cost of said debt can be found on the state's CT-0253 forms.

Anonymous said...

Running the debt through the Blount County PBA is all about making Joe Ayres rich. Try looking into TN-Loans. Ayres and his wife are directors. The company appears to have no phone of its own and no place of business of its own, yet it takes in millions per year via its deal with the Blount County PBA.

Mike Donila said...

I believe we are going to look into the Blount issue. I have collected a great deal of information (Are you possibly the one sending it to me? If so, please know that I'm not ignoring you - it is being saved) I have to wrap up a number of long-term pieces first (editor's orders), but I might be able to talk to one of our other reporters who I believe is now covering the Blount area.

Mike Donila said...

"The KNS treat Tim Burchett like an idiot savant. The truth is he understands how dangerous this debt is."

I might rib the mayor a little bit, but believe me, I am certainly not one of the folks who thinks he's an Idiot.

Also, in the past, the paper (before my time) has done an extensive report about the bond debt and compared it to other counties. I'll try to look for the link.

Some posts, like this one, I just throw out because it's good information that I think people would like to know about and I have it lying around.

But, your points are well noted.