Jennifer Roberts, her fellow county commissioners, and county staff sound like they are suddenly getting sober over the potential loss of the county’s triple AAA credit rating. Of course, we told you what happen the minute the county foolishly popped the cork on jacking the county’s debt ceiling from 16 to 22 percent of the operating budget back in 2008.
On the revenue side, the county had a completely rose-colored assumption of ever-increasing tax booty. In other words, boom times were assumed to be the norm. On the spending side, despite a fairly rigorous priority ranking scheme within the county budget, we simply opted to buy everything. Back to our tried and true grocery store metaphor.
The county went shopping for dinner with a $20 bill. Steak and salad cost $18, SunDrop $3. County officials — cheered on by staff — concluded the only way to buy dinner was to put it all on a credit card. Afterall, when they went shopping next week they surely would have $22 to spend.
Except we don’t and now the banks want to hike our credit card rate if we don’t shape up, set some priorities, and stick with them. Families all over America have confronted this reality, why should Mecklenburg County be any different?