Your View: City debt isn’t an issue, according to financial experts

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By Lynn Hampton, organizer, Bill Euille write-in campaign

The City of Alexandria just received a bond rating upgrade from Standard and Poor’s — to AAA stable. Moody’s upgraded the city’s outlook in 2013. You cannot get any better than this. Thank you to our city’s elected officials and highly competent staff.

The Standard and Poor’s report describes the city’s finances as “strong budgetary performance with a history of balanced financial operations and break-even operations, very strong liquidity, very strong management, low carrying charges and low net debt with rapid amortization.”

Our city has invested in important infrastructure. Because of improved schools, enrollment in Alexandria City Public Schools has increased. Roadways, including curbs and gutters, are being maintained. We have wonderful libraries and recreational centers. The city, through taxes generated from the new development on the waterfront, is now able to address the constant nuisance flooding. A new Metro station at Potomac Yard will attract private investment and increase ridership while reducing traffic on our roads. There are more projects needed and the city has recognized them in its 10-year capital improvement plan. These will be financed and constructed in a methodical fashion as the city has done before.

Democratic mayoral nominee Allison Silberberg and two of the Republicans running for city council, Bob Wood and Townsend Van Fleet, complain about the city’s debt. Meanwhile, the professionals at Standard and Poor’s say, “Overall net debt is, in our view, low at just 1.6 percent of market value. We consider debt amortization rapid with officials planning to retire more than two-thirds of debt over 10 years.”

Our city leaders have made infrastructure investments in the lowest interest rate environment in decades. I applaud their decisions. What projects would the candidates mentioned above eliminate: Schools and libraries on the West End, improvements in Del Ray or roadway improvements? Political candidates, especially those from Old Town, need to recognize that there are upwards of 140,000 residents in Alexandria and public infrastructure development is a critical investment in our city.

Candidates should not yell “fire” by raising a non-existent issue when we have an amazingly well run city, recognized by the bond rating agencies as AAA. We should re-elect our current city council, including a write-in vote for Mayor Bill Euille to ensure that we continue with the job well done.

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