By: Dine Benjamin
Normal Trustee Kathleen Lorenz compiled a form email she sent to numerous residents who asked why she changed her vote. Yes folks, she was convinced the Town’s credit rating is more important than not fleecing residents for more money. She still spews the AAA credit rating from the much smaller Fitch Ratings while ignoring Moodys who has Normal at AA1. Kathleen even has an example of how much a drop in credit rating will cost if the Town borrows $10,000,000.
Earth to Kathleen: The citizens don’t want the Town borrowing more money!
The Town debt is already ridiculous, principal isn’t even being paid yet on numerous bonds, just interest. (More on that later today). I wonder if the plan is to borrow $10,000,000 for the underpass?
Below is her form letter, read it carefully. Since Chris Koos announced the re-vote was to fix an error, it’s obvious who got to her. The “emphasis” is mine.
Sent: Thursday, December 12, 2019, 3:30 PM
Let me start my response by setting forth three things:
* On Council, I am and will always be committed to being the best steward of the Town’s resources.
* Sometimes in life, we do need to change our opinion on something when presented with new information.
* My change in decision was done with a great amount of thought and careful consideration of that new information.
I would very much like to make it clear that the Town reduced the 2019 levy by $600,000, based on the motion made by me during the November meeting. That is $600,000 to taxpayers, and a reduction to citizens’ property tax rate from 1.47 (2018) to 1.46 (2019).
When an amendment was proposed that would reduce the levy even further-by $96K-it initially appeared to be extra savings. Had I realized that cutting that $96K had the potential of hurting our bond rating, and the loss of a potential communication director – the latter being the issue most discussed at the meeting – I saw the initial decision for what it truly was: penny wise and pound foolish. I was glad of the opportunity to fix it at last week’s council meeting.
The impact on the Town’s AAA bond rating is a complicated matter – one that this issue gave me greater clarity and understanding. It has many moving and perhaps even subjective parts, on the part of rating agencies’ opinions of an entity’s risk. Suffice to say, that given the amount of debt load that we have – currently about $88M – we have to be extremely thoughtful of our bond rating. Falling to a AA rating would cost the Town over $500,000 in additional interest on one $10M bond, and never mind about any future savings that we’ve been able to achieve with our AAA rating through refinancing our current debt.
Nothing about any of vote is simple, especially ones on taxes. I’m reminded of a point in the poignant eulogy given by Senator Alan Simpson at President George H.W. Bush’s funeral, where he recalled one of Bush’s sayings: “when the really tough choices come, it’s the country, not me. It’s not about Democrats or Republicans, it’s for our country that I fought for.” I’m far from comparison to such a national figure of our country’s history like President George H.W. Bush, but the theme strikes a chord for me: it’s about the Town, not left or right, R’s or D’s, but for the well-being and future of our community – and for that I rest well at night.
Thank you for your interest and inquiry.
Normal Town Councilmember