Letter: Rifle cannot afford more debt
I’ve noticed the Rifle City Council promoted the recent ‘Clean Bill of Health’ regarding the accounting audit this year. I’d like to clarify for them what an audit is.
An audit does not assess how the money was spent versus its tax revenue or the financial viability of a town. It assesses the accounting procedures used and its level of compliance to government standards. I’ll agree that it’s good to know that our financial department is compliant; I think that their touting of the budget’s clean bill of health to promote their tax proposal is misleading. We don’t have questions about the accounting procedures. It’s the financial stability of the town that we’re concerned with.
Please consider the city’s financial situation before deciding whether or not to build a recreation center using sales tax. We’ve seen several articles in the Citizen Telegram illustrating the town’s financial status. They’ve all said it: Revenue down across the board, reserves used to cover expenses. That’s like dipping into your savings to pay your bills. The reserves were, in 2009, over $7M; 2010, $6M; 2011, $5M; 2012 $4.5M; (May) 2013, $4M. This trend shows we cannot afford another debt; we can’t pay our bills on our current income as it is. Adding another bill is not going to help this situation.
Our sales tax revenue, according to Charles Kelty, city finance director, is down 10 percent from what was projected in the 2013 budget and there’s no sign of that trend changing. Adding another long-term debt does not make sense. I understand the argument regarding construction costs now versus five years from now, but until our financial situation changes for the better and we come out with a surplus to pay back our reserves, we cannot afford another bond payment.
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