(Jim Clark) – Long ago and far away, there was a principality governed by a wise and benevolent prince. And the streams gave plenteous water, and the carriages traversed good roads, and there was much happiness in the land. So after twelve long years of governing, the wise and benevolent prince decided to retire and leave the job of governing to two wise and benevolent princesses and three evil princes.
And there came to the land a great famine and pestilence, and the evil princes began to lay off knights and soldiers loyal to the crown and many peasants lost their farms. Then, the wise judges of the assizes told the principality that it had collected too much in taxes in the mountainous region and must return these unlawful gains to the poor peasants who had paid them. Tax collectors would go empty handed because too many peasants had lost their farms, so the treasury got lower and lower.
One day, as the evil princes were planning budget cuts and layoffs of more knights and soldiers, one of the evil princes said, “I’ve got an idea. Let’s borrow a bunch of money from the Dutch bankers and use it to buy bonds issued by agencies of the principality.”
When the wise and benevolent former prince heard of this, he came out of retirement and went to the council of the three evil princes and the two wise and benevolent princesses and said: “Are you guys bleepin’ nuts? The first rule of ruling is when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging,”
Then the two wise and benevolent princesses said, “Oh, save the principality, wise and benevolent former prince. Keep our evil brothers from doing this.”
But the evil princes replied, “Shaddup, princesses! Get lost, former prince, we got the votes to do this.”
Well, dear readers, this wasn’t long ago and far away, it’s happening now. The “principality” is Washoe County; the wise and benevolent former prince is retired County Commissioner Jim Galloway. There really is a $6.8 million budget hole (plus the refunds due Incline property owners), and the evil princes really have proposed to create a “bond bank” to borrow money and purchase the bonds of an agency to be formed from the merger of the Truckee Meadows Water Agency and the county’s Department of Water Resources.
The proposed ordinance first came up last May, and after public testimony in opposition from county employees and representatives of both Sparks and Incline, the matter was tabled. But, like a bad penny, it came back as a proposed ordinance.
Its first hearing was November 8. It would allow the county to borrow over $2 billion to purchase bonds to be issued by water authorities existing or created within Washoe County. Why? “To provide the (water authority) access to credit at a lower interest rate . . . due to the county’s higher credit rating and general obligation pledge” according to the staff report.
Presumably the “lower interest” rate would permit the water authority to pass the savings along to ratepayers served by the agency, although there is nothing in the proposed ordinance that would require this. Galloway told the commission that a rate increase of just 1.9 cents per day would cover the additional interest cost of the agency issuing its own bonds to the public.
Under the proposal, Sparks, North Valleys and Incline taxpayers would bear any risk of this scheme but receive nothing for in return. It is this feature that bothers Commissioners Weber and Jung.
A second and final reading of this ordinance is scheduled for December 13. Hopefully, additional citizens will join Galloway in disabusing county commissioners of this cockamamie scheme.
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates and a member of the Washoe County & Nevada State GOP Central Committees)