Sewage project funding was the right move

Published 11:35 pm Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Selma City Council approved the process of taking out a $4.275 million loan Tuesday to fund a necessary and long-overdue sewage project that will hopefully address most of the sewage problems currently being experienced and those problems that are imminent.

But, in the process of taking out the loan, the council inched the city ever closer to its allowable debt limit.

The exact amount is not known and not reported, but one city official said the new loan leaves the city with just over $1 million left before it hits the limit.

There is no arguing that this project is needed. It is desperately needed.

But, there are those who would argue with the feasibility and fiscal logic of taking out the massive loan — regardless of the very low interest and payment terms.

It is also interesting this council overwhelmingly supported this loan, but all but laughed out loud when council president Corey Bowie put forth a plan that would have allocated $200,000 each year from the city’s half-cent sales tax fund — or what we like to call their slush fund — that would have been dedicated to infrastructure projects.

We applaud Mayor George Evans for working quickly to bring about a possible funding solution to the council, but it was only one option that was presented and it was adopted with just a few meetings of debate.

The council must begin to focus on not only the city’s aging infrastructure, but the city’s debt load that impacts the city’s finances for decades to come.

In the end, we think this loan is a good deal, because the value of the work it funds far outweighs the cost and debt service. But, what makes us a little nervous is the laissez faire the council has treated the city’s finances in recent weeks.

There was the recent audit review that only three council members turned out for and then, not all of the council members made the investment of sitting through the entire budget review meeting.

Infrastructure is serious, but so are the city’s finances. It’s time our council takes it seriously and becomes the financial experts the city and its residents deserve.