There is an implied contract between citizens and a governing body with regard to a general obligation bond. When voters agree to tax themselves, they expect that when a bond is retired the tax should go away. But I am embarrassed to say not so in Roswell, because it is an axiom that once politicians get their hands on your money they will manipulate, deceive and even lie to taxpayers to keep it.
When the Ga. 400 toll road was built the agreement was that the toll booths were to come down when the road was paid for. That reality has yet to be seen.
Routinely a municipal general obligation bond specifically spells out what its purpose is and legally all monies collected must be utilized within a specific period of time for the project spelled out by the bond and for that project only. Debt service monies cannot be rolled over for any other municipal “feel good” project.
Roswell property owners approved bonds for the purchase of park lands and transportation infrastructure improvements dating back to 1995. Those debts will be paid off by the end of next year. But instead of taxes going down, Mayor Wood and City Council intend to keep collecting some $6.3 million annually forever. The city’s toll booth is not coming down.
Now the reality is that the $14.7 million bond voters will decide on this November will only cost property owners $1.6 million annually and we will be paying on this debt for the next 10 years.
But here is the real eye opener.
The city will take in $6.3 million annually and only pay out $1.6 million each year, keeping the difference of $4.7 million to use as they see fit.
With this money, if council wishes to invest in capital infrastructure improvements they can. If they want more bicycle races they can use your tax dollars to do so. If council wants to use your tax dollars to cover the exorbitant operational costs for the new senior center swimming pool (one of the items on the bond) that only a select portion of the population will be allowed to take advantage of, they can do that also. If they want to take another annual retreat to Greenville or Chattanooga as they have done in the past, then away they go on our dime. If they want to increase the head count working at city hall or give a pay raise, like they did this year, they can use our tax dollars and do so. They can even put more red bricks in turn lanes on Highway 9 or paint and repaint green bicycle lines throughout the city. Because unlike a general obligation bond, there are no legal obligations relative to how the Mayor or City Council can use this $4.7 million annual windfall of taxpayer’s hard earned money, once they roll it over into day to day operations - as they intend to do!
Roswell property owners, you will carry this burden. Mayor Wood stated emphatically during last Monday’s bond meeting that this is going to happen and I guarantee you that this will happen unless you speak up.