Todd Paris, Staff Writer
♦ Readers might remember that closed meetings are taking place this week at 1 Water Street with City Council and a council-selected group of business leaders, who may or may not be residents of Salisbury and who don’t appear to have broadband experience, to interview a few vendors to do something about the massive $6,700.00 per day deficit that has financially ruined our city. Taxpayers, citizens, and media are specifically excluded. So much for transparency.
Readers might also remember media reports (WSOC-TV) that Salisbury NC was on a State Treasurer’s financial watch list that never seemed to materialize.
Rowan Free Press reported that while Salisbury NC could not be found on any watch list, but that a letter had been sent.
Since an iron curtain of secrecy was dropped around Fibrant under spurious claims that obtaining bids to buy, lease-purchase, or manage Fibrant somehow falls within an economic development exception to Chapter 132 public records requests and open meetings laws, and absent a lawsuit, millions and millions of dollars of city property and debt are now being discussed in secret. City Hall has refused to respond to my records requests and have missed their deadline.
City Council Member Kenny Hardin, the only true independent thinker on council, is allegedly under internal attack by proxy and other naysayers will likely be visited as well.
The Rosetta Stone was a written object unearthed in 1799. At the time Egyptian hieroglyphics could not be deciphered. This stone had the same story written in Ancient Egyptian using hieroglyphic script and Demotic script, respectively, while the bottom was written in Ancient Greek. This discovery paved the way to our ability to understand ancient Egyptian.
When I try a case, I always look for the legal and logical equivalent to the Rosetta Stone. There is usually one document or witness that will start to unlock or unravel the truth. We have two and they arrived just a few days ago.
Submitted for your approval is the actual December 22, 2016 letter from Sharon Edmundson, Director of the Fiscal Management Section of The Department of the State Treasurer to Mayor Karen Alexander “calling the city out” in that the Fibrant Enterprise Fund was still reporting a net loss on full accrual and that it is not covering it’s debt and giving the city a mere 45 days to update them on the operating plan for Fibrant and to include a repayment schedule for the 7M inter-fund loan taken from Salisbury Rowan Utilities. It is inferred that any additional debt would likely not be approved by the Local Government Commission unless there is a suitable response.
City Manager Lane Bailey’s response was posted in January 4, 2017 and it failed on it’s face to include a repayment schedule and indicated the City had contracted with CTC Technology to provide guidance. He anticipated that CTC would recommend that Fibrant “partner” with a private firm and that any money saved from the recent refinance would be paid towards the interfund balance.
There you have it. Reports in the common media that bids or offers are being considered are evidently not to purchase, sell, lease-purchase or get rid of Fibrant or it’s horrendous debt but to partner with a private company.
Partnership under the law usually has legal significance. Generally, a partnership is an arrangement in which two or more individuals share the liabilities and profits of a business. We remember the City bragging about its new partnership with Calix in September 2015. Governor McCrory came down and City touted about our new 10 gig capabilities. Did Calix share in Fibrant’s liabilities and profits? No. It was a mere vendor as far as we can tell.
In the end, absent the iron curtain of secrecy being parted, we will likely not find out what our betters have decided until it is done. At last city council Mr. Bailey said the advisory committee might meet for three months before a decision is reached. It also appears that the Fibrant debt is not going away any time soon, if ever. Perhaps it’s time for the State Treasurer to stop rattling sabers and intervene in this matter and protect local and state taxpayers. A copy of this article will be sent to him. His name is Dale R. Folwell and his contact information may be found here:
Department of the State Treasurer Letter to the City of Salisbury:
City Hall’s Response: