CARMEL – Once again, Maureen Fleming has distorted our administration’s record, this time regarding County debt. Fleming refers to the County Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) regarding long term debt for the years 2011 and 2017 (financial statements, citing long term debt principal being $ 60,645,181 and $ 60,512,925, respectively. But Fleming FAILS to point out that further down the same page in each CAFR the TOTAL outstanding principal and interest payments due have gone from $ 88,024,970 to $74,862,532, a DECREASE of $ 13,165,438 (15%).
Fleming has either willfully or ignorantly failed to account for interest payments due. As everyone who has refinanced their property knows, interest is a critical component of the total amount of debt due when making decisions regarding debt management. Odell stated, “Maureen Fleming’s failure to ignore interest payments due on debt is either a blatant intentional distortion of our record or a total failure to understand the basic concepts of debt management.” I will leave it to the People of Putnam County to decide which applies on Election Day, November 6.”
Further, Fleming “forgot” to include page 40 of the 2011 CAFR (click here), showing Putnam County had a tax anticipation note due of $ 17 Million on 12/31/11. You will not find that note in the 2017 CAFR, as short-term debt has been eliminated.
Finally, Fleming failed to mention the $ 8.6 in pension amortization debt that the County has paid off since 2012, and the associated $ 775,000 in interest savings realized by paying this debt off early.
In summary, the $ 13.2 million in long-term debt payment reduction, plus the $ 17 million in short-term debt elimination, plus the $ 9.4 million in pension amortization debt elimination, equates to $ 39.6 million in debt elimination.
Odell urges residents not to just take her word regarding Putnam County finances, but look at what MOODY’s Investors Service, the independent Bond rating agency, says about Putnam County. It recently assigned Putnam County a superior Aa2 Bond rating, citing the County’s” stable financial operations” and its “modest debt and pension burdens.”
On a final note, County Executive Odell addressed Fleming’s criticism on the use of General Fund balance in the 2019 Budget. Odell explained, “Fund balance is taxpayer dollars. We use it wisely to preserve our bond rating, provide and enhance services for our residents, and we return the rest by not raising property taxes by more than is necessary.” She then added, “Both Moody’s Investors Services Inc. and the County’s Independent Auditing firm PFK O’Connor Davies, have evaluated and praised the County’s financial practices.”
Maureen Fleming is entitled to her own opinions. But not her own facts.