The Fibrant Autopsy Part II: How Fibrant Works Financially

Posted on April 14, 2018

Todd Paris, RFP Contributor and Salisbury Attorney

The Fibrant Autopsy Part II: How Fibrant Works Financially

Initially the city publically claimed and local print media published that Fibrant was making a modest profit and had turned the corner.  This brought much  acclaim to  the  local visionaries. This proved patently false.  Back in 2014 the editor of the Rowan Free Press, and myself a few years later, were able to expose the truth. Fibrant was and is hemorrhaging lots and lots of tax money.

Think of three boxes. This is from a few years back. All three boxes have three million dollars written on them. One is labeled “income” the one beside it is labeled “operational costs.” Income is the money Fibrant earns and operational costs are maintenance, salaries and expenses. A few years back, almost all of the 26 of Fibrant employees were farmed out on the budget to other departments and to create a false narrative that Fibrant was making a modest profit. It wasn’t. Even worse, this particular magic math never took into account that the initial debt was being paid for from the general fund to the tune of another $3M per year. In its best year, Fibrant was not paying its debt or money originally borrowed from the water fund. The best that could be said was that it was covering its operational cost.  However that is hard to support while looking at budgets where most of its employees were being farmed out to other departments! Only in the past year or so the new NC State Treasurer has forced the city to start repaying the water and sewer fund for money borrowed from that enterprise fund.

Various persons have maintained that the income and operational costs of Fibrant roughly off-set each other, however, this year council revealed at an open meeting that this is no longer true. Fibrant Interim Director Evans Ballard revealed in a council presentation earlier this year that combined business accounts were 1,456 in 2017 and decreased by 72 to 1,384 in 2018. That’s 5% decrease when Fibrant should be growing. Residential subscriptions were down by 497 or a 9% decrease from 2017 to 2018. A more recent meeting, which I will talk about later, revealed that Fibrant is one half million short this year of being able to meet its operating costs. Remember this does not include the over $3M per year debt service payments, which have always been paid for from the operating fund. Large business accounts appear to be fleeing. Fibrant is dying.

The Fibrant Residential financials from 2013 to 2018:

The Fibrant business financials from 2013 to 2018:

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