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LETTERS/ Praxis: Actions over Words

Author and Philosopher Robert Fulgham says “The older I get the less attention I pay to what people say and the more I watch what they do…”

I watched several videos recently of candidates for Blowing Rock Town Council telling why they were qualified. Hunt Broyhill in several videos painted a dark picture of Blowing Rock’s finances so I set out to check it out.

Broyhill said:

  1. The Town budget “ballooned over 60%” and “we don’t have a lot to show for it”.

The budget has grown in the last 4 years but the explanation as to why is very revealing. 

There are several causes, the first of which is a simple change in the generally accepted accounting practices that took place around 2020. With this required procedural change gross revenue for the Town which includes sales tax distributions to Blowing Rock from Watauga County must be fully recognized. This means the town must now show a $2.4 million income and a $1.6 million expenditure instead of a simple net revenue of $720,000. The end outcome was no change, but the number grew 2 and 3 times what was recorded before. It makes the budget look much bigger.

The second cause pushing the budget was the addition of employees. Over the period Broyhill cites the organization for which he has been a board member, BRCA, has pushed for added police officers to patrol 321 to stop speeders and noise. Those officers and the cruisers and equipment added $360,000 to the budget recently. The paramedics BRCA pushed for added $200,000. Certainly, Broyhill would not have opposed the very expenditures his BRCA compatriots were for? Then there was the cost of three 911 dispatch personnel required if Blowing Rock wants to continue to have 911 service. 

The third budget increase came during the pandemic when Boone and other municipalities raised wages to keep employees working while people were being paid to stay home. Blowing Rock adjusted minimum salaries to remain competitive and retain qualified workers. These are the people who plowed the snow in the winter and fixed the water main breaks at midnight for the Town. Would Broyhill have opposed? He should say so if he opposes. We won’t go into the cost of maintenance for the 321 boulevard that was added during this time.

2- Broyhill said Blowing Rock has almost $20 million in debt. Per the June 30,2022 Audit Report, Blowing Rock debt is $15 million. The difference between $15 million and $20 million is significant to most of us but not all. In relation to the Maximum Legal Debt Blowing Rock can borrow of $85 million, it’s a long way off. So, the picture painted of a dire future overwhelmed by debt service payments is an exaggeration.  In fact, six (6) of the 12 equipment and land and building loans are paid by 2025. Three projects that roll off in the next year are A) the $1 million loan to buy the Barry Buxton property on 321 B) the Blowing Rock Parking Deck and C) the Fire Building. 

Broyhill, the experienced business candidate, might have noticed too, if he had attended the January 4,2023 Town Council meeting or read the Audit Report, that accrued vacation and accrued pension benefits are rolled up and lumped into the debt numbers. As these details are considered it yields quite a different picture than the blanket $20 million in debt and more to come.

3- Broyhill said we have $40 million in infrastructure needs in the next few years. True, we have identified about $40 million in needs, $30 million of which relates to the water/sewer project. Broyhill can try to get in front of this issue, but the parade formed long before he came on the scene. $10 million of the $30 million is already underway in the Main Street water/sewer project and replacing the Mayview Lift Station. The remaining $10 million is for street paving scheduled closer to 2030.

The Audit Report stated the Standard & Poor’s Rating Service gave Blowing Rock a rating of AA+, which is high quality with little credit risk. The interest rates on our bonds and loans average 2.05%. Most of us know that a high credit score is the result of good and proper management.

So, why is it that Hunt Broyhill would paint such a dark picture to voters? Why would he infer the previous councils do not have the experience or ability he has to straighten out the budget and keep us out of certain crushing debt? The Audit Report spells it out. I think Shane Fox would disagree with the picture Broyhill is projecting. Broyhill wants you to believe only he can fix the problem. 

The only problem is the problem he wants you to believe does not exist.

Either Broyhill knows why the budget increases occurred or he does not.

Broyhill knows the current debt situation for Blowing Rock, or he does not.

If he does not, is that who you want to represent you on Council?

If he does know, and has left out critical information as a scare tactic, is that who you want representing you on Council?

Seems like an easy choice to me.

 If Broyhill wants to prove he lives in Blowing Rock and wants to serve the community let him serve on the Board of Adjustments for a year or two or the Planning Board. Let the Town get to know who he is and see what a great business mind he has. 

Handing over the Town to someone who tells you only part of the story is a shaky proposition at best. 

Praxis: Actions over Words.

Richard Gambill, Blowing Rock