It's Real Debt - 27 East

Letters

Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1720930

It’s Real Debt

I want to thank former Village Administrator Stephen Funsch for his detailed explanation of village finances, in which he verifies that the Village of Southampton has accumulated more than $100 million in long-term debt [“The Real Numbers,” Letters, August 27].

That number is not a harmless accounting requirement. It is real debt, piling up annually, hitting $101 million in 2019 — an unfunded liability that the taxpayers will have to eventually shoulder, or, as Mr. Funsch puts it, an obligation “funded by future years’ resources.”

The failure of our village, year after year, to fund its known future obligations while claiming its budgets are balanced or in surplus is misleading and irresponsible. It is the fiscal equivalent of running up massive annual deficits that will land on our children and grandchildren, requiring them to pay higher and higher taxes.

A responsible administration would have earmarked a portion of the tax increases over the last 15 years for future liabilities and kept current spending in check.

And don’t be fooled by that AAA bond rating. The credit rating agencies base that on the perceived future ability of a municipality to extract taxes sufficient to cover its obligations. How long will the residents — the tax base — stick around if we keep raising their taxes while destroying the unique character of the village with over-development?

Business as usual may line a few well-connected pockets for a few more years, but eventually it will kill the golden goose.

Ellen Scarborough

Southampton Village

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