County debt issues: Writer addresses friends and neighbors

letter

Friends and Neighbors, 

I quietly took myself to a county commissioners’ meeting, yesterday morning. 

I spoke at “Public Comment” about the needless waste of time and money spent on the mass inoculation site at the Chambersburg Mall.  I reminded the commissioners of those people living in poverty, near poverty and those on fixed incomes here. 

The idea that people would use that site to get vaccinated didn’t pan out, seeing only 2,200 people were vaccinated there. And after 3 months, the site was closed down because people had already gotten their vaccinations who wanted them. 

While at this meeting, the completion of this project was discussed.

The debt service millage rate increase was brought up on this project too.  On an average home here, the annual debt increase will be approximately $29/year. 

What didn’t dawn on me then, but it does now is the annual debt service line item is only one, very small part of Franklin County’s $157,971,700 budget. So slight-of-hand here, one piece of the county’s budget increased your average county tax bill by $ 29/year.  

There are many more line items in a government budget to consider here though. The interest rate on the remaining $7 million for this project was also brought up. The bond attorney attempted to put a good spin on it by saying the county’s interest rate will be 2-1/2 percent for the remaining piece of this project.

I told Dave Keller afterwards that this interest rate wasn’t really a good rate. Interest rates are determined by the amount of existing debt you already are carrying. Seeing prior to this project the overall debt service in Franklin County sat at $55 million, and it now sits at $98 million–(a $43 million increase in long term debt alone inside this budget), that 2-1/2 percent interest rate may sound good to you, but the interest rate would be much better if the long term debt was $55 million vs. $98 million. 

The more debt you carry, the more interest you pay on this debt.  This idea holds true for a government agency too. 

I was only one of two residents that spoke inside a commissioner’s meeting room that would hold one (me) spellbound.  I now know why I have the privilege of paying more than $29/year in just county debt alone.

Valerie Jordan

Fayetteville PA