A Worthwhile Bond
A worthwhile bond
We should start off by saying that we are not huge fans of municipal bonds, particularly in times of economic strife.
For what is a bond but a loan a city makes to itself, financed by individual investors who expect a return on their money within a few years?
And we’ve seen the way bonds go around here:
Boosters use every trick in the book to get them passed, from obfuscation, as was the case in the $12 million swim center that was couched in a parks and rec bond last year that was then deftly removed from under the purview of the Parks & Recreation Department, to flooding the zone, which happened in 2006 with no less than 11 proposed municipal bonds worth an aggregated $115 million — one of them for a swim center which at the time cost just $9 million.
This year the election ballot will contain but a single bond issue for Greensboro voters, a $20 million referendum devoted to making the existing Natural Science Center into a huge facility encompassing an aquarium, doubling the size of the Animal Discovery Park, additions like new wings for dinosaurs and technology, and a new theater.
Surprisingly, we are in favor of it. For one, it sounds like an awesome project for a facility that has not been updated in 20 years. We have heard it will generate about 20 full-time jobs, and while we are not naÃ¯ve enough to swallow the numbers thrown at us by the aquarium lobby we think it is reasonable to expect that there will be some ancillary economic activity driven by tourism — or, at least, those passing through Greensboro on their way to somewhere else.
Also, one of the things Greensboro is known for by its residents is that it’s a good place for families. An amenity like this, which is as educational as it is fun, would be a gift to the children of Greensboro.
And on a more pragmatic note, while investors are currently skittish about stocks as the market searches for stability, municipal bonds are a pretty good investment, as they are backed by an authority with the ability to levy taxes, which means there is little possibility of default.
We do have a couple caveats. We are concerned that this facility would hurt the NC Zoo in Asheboro, itself a wonderful facility though, for some, a bit off the beaten path.
And we are wary of the type of shenanigans that could come along with a bond of this size, including but not limited to malfeasance, embezzlement and crony contracts for the construction.
But we’ll keep our eyes peeled for anything shady.
For your part, you can vote yes for this referendum.
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