$168 Million and Counting – Email to Council Re: $10 Million Bond for EPA Mandates

It’s that time of year again – time to drown our future grandkids in more debt. I sent the following email to council regarding an important item on tonight’s agenda.  Please read and respond to council with your thoughts. They need to hear from as many of us as possible. Your voice counts in Oak Ridge, but only if you let it be heard.
Council/Mr. Watson,
I understand that we have no choice but to borrow an additional $10 million to cover the EPA mandates regarding our water & sewage upgrades. I agree with Ellen Smith’s recommendation in that we should essentially suck it up as much as we can now by increasing sewage rates and structure the loan in a way that pays off a greater percentage of the principal sooner rather than later. The city recommendation to borrow in a manner that pushes the bulk of the burden out onto our children and grandchildren is grossly irresponsible.
Of even greater concern is how this city has historically approached debt. As others have done before me, I will begin to personally explore and publically share my thoughts on this issue in the coming months. I urge council and city staff to immediately take the following actions:
1. Establish a debt policy that most clearly defines limits on our borrowing, prioritizes what expenditures can and cannot be paid for through bonds, defines acceptable and unacceptable borrowing practices, and mandates faster payoffs.
2. Proactively and aggressively start paying down our debt by any and all means possible. I suggest you look into Dave Ramsey’s “debt snowball” approach for ideas.   
3. STOP wasting time “looking into” non-essential expenditures, especially those that have ZERO ROI such as building a new senior center or needlessly expanding a library which more than sufficiently meets the needs of our citizens both now and in the distant future.
Trina Baughn

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