Peddling Misinformation: The End Justifies Any Means
Fiction, More Fiction and Even More Fiction
Hardi’s View from the Cloudy Vapors of the Anesthesiology Ward
October 7, 2017
By Ira Kaylin
Kaylin served as a senior auditor for an international banking system and was a member of the Falls Church City Council as well as Co-Chairman of its Budget and Finance Committee
In spite of the faux folksy tone to Letty Hardi’s September 29, blog post, it is in fact a straight-up propaganda piece.
It is complete with misinformation and, now with increasing frequency, misinterpretation of limited information provided.
Take for example the so called good news. Budget revenues appear to be $500,000 above earlier projections—nice but barely enough to cover 1 cent on the tax rate. With regard to Hardi’s remarks concerning “under spending,” this can be a problem, not a benefit, if the cause is insufficient staff to implement projects committed to and funded. Her exhortation to buy more in the City, perhaps stated as tongue in cheek, is fatuous. Sales and meals tax are not a significant component of the City’s budget. This all is “feel good” nonsense that does not underpin the financial wherewithal regarding taking on $120 Million in debt.
The “need to have a serious debate about capital and operating budget, especially operating budgets…” is something that should already have been done and has not been done.
Hardi has thus admitted that we have not had that debate but insists that the Referendum go forward with key questions not having been addressed.
The real issue is that the proposed 6 cent tax increase is just the tip of the iceberg. That increase is BEFORE the annual increase in the school transfer payment which we haven’t seen. We know it will be at least 4%, or over $2 to $2.5 million according to the Superintendent. Some of it will be covered by revenue increases or cuts to City services, but the bulk will be passed on in the form of future tax rate increases.
Hardi’s failure to present the whole picture is part of a program of misinformation.
And Now–The Big Lie
Under the title “Hardi’s Fact vs. Fiction” she states that “…staff has laid out a reasonable financing plan…”
There is NO comprehensive financing plan.
Citizens still have absolutely no idea how we will fund City and School expenses going forward.
The net income of the developable land at GMHS is projected, after ten years of development, to be all of $3.2 million. Yet the Superintendent projects operating costs (mostly teacher and staff) will increase by $30 million during the same period.
This is a Plan?
What Hardi has done is to focus solely on capital expenses in isolation. Staff has figured out a way to take the remaining water system sale money, extend the term of the debt and run down Fund Balance to make the tax rate increase seem more bearable.
That is the sum and substance of the City’s financing plan.
Direct Comments and Questions to Council Member Hardi
Ms. Hardi: When you ran for office you explicitly claimed the Fund Balance was too high and needed to be reduced. Since you claimed to be a finance person, I publicly asked you many times, in articles and blogs, to explain your reasoning especially for a City 70% dependent on residential taxes. You never responded.
I challenge you to show us one single comprehensive financing plan that covers City and School needs for the next ten years. Yes, the City does prepare Five Year CIP projections. That has been standard practice, so why do you bring it up now?
To even obliquely hint that we have a financing plan is a lie–and a BIG LIE.
It appears that Mary Beth Connelly’s Mr. Magoo approach to financial management–taking a big leap of faith without being able to see where we are going–dominates the Council’s approach to managing the City’s finances.
In sum Ms. Hardi, show us your financial plan.