It was interesting to read the Rocky Mount Telegram Editorial in support of the North Carolina bond referendum. This referendum will allow North Carolina taxpayers to vote, up or down, for a $2 billion general obligation bond for infrastructure.
The Community Council is not taking a position on this statewide measure but we do wonder why the Rocky Mount Telegram supports a referendum at the state level for infrastructure but not at the local level for an event center. Less than a month ago the Rocky Mount Telegram specifically said “the decision to build such a center should rest with Rocky Mount leaders and residents, not with legislators who represent other parts of the state – especially when many lawmakers representing this area support the construction of the center.”
So what is the difference?
By our calculations if the $2 billion general obligation bond is approved it will comprise 9% of the $21.74 billion state budget. On the other hand if the $45 million event center is approved by the Rocky Mount City Council it will comprise 75% of the $60.2 million city general fund budget. If Rocky Mount mimicked the state percentage our event center debt would be reduced by 88% to $5.4 million.
The Community Council agrees that ordinary expenditures should be decided by the elected leaders but we are not buying a bus. The City Council of Rocky Mount is spending $45 million to build an event center that also comes with yearly operating expenses. This is not your everyday expense, so yes the citizens of Rocky Mount should be allowed to vote on this expenditure. In fact, we should have voted on this during the October municipal elections or it could be placed on the upcoming primary ballot in March.
The Community Council