Thank you to the League of Women Voters for sponsoring Wednesday night’s candidate forum. The candidates were civil and respectful and mostly truthful with a few exceptions.
The most egregious of the falsehoods I think is with regard to the amount of city debt. There is of course only one right answer to the question: What is Cottonwood’s debt? Anyone with a desire to find out can easily fact check it by looking at the city’s approved FY 2018 Budget Document.
There are claims this election season that the city has $69 million of debt plus the unfunded pension liabilities forced on us by the state.
This is off by $21 million.
The city has just under $48 million in debt as of FY 2018. About half of that, or almost $25 million, is for the water utility, which serves not only the 11,600 or so Cottonwood residents but also about 13,300 residents of the Verde Villages. So the debt service on this debt is paid for by 24,900 people because it is covered by user fees.
About $12 million of the remaining debt is secured by the rec center, library expansion, pool expansion, Mickelsen Parkway and part of Riverfront Park, all of which are in line with the city’s mission and vision statements, supported by Cottonwood residents and used by many non-residents.
The remainder, about $11 million, is for various capital projects including water lines, wastewater projects, street improvements, and regional communication center.
So, why the misstatement of fact? Could it be that inflating the debt supports political assertions that Cottonwood needs reforming?
Personally I’d rather have a city councilman who knows the facts and reports them accurately.