Columbia, SC — Columbia City Council seems to be at it again. It just borrowed $7 million from a city employees’ retirement fund to do a questionable real estate deal involving the Palmetto Compress warehouse. Now the council appears about to do a $4.3 million to $20 million bond to fund nonessential projects, such as a “recreation catalyst project” in North Columbia, and have the hospitality tax repay it.
The council is already paying off one bond — $13 million is still owed — with hospitality taxes. Instead of taking on new liability, it ought to pay off the current debt. But it is diving in for more debt because the rates are low — like putting a second mortgage on your house because rates are low. I think I would rather pay off the first loan before incurring more debt.
One or two council members are against this new debt, but they are outnumbered by some of the same people who are still on council from the horribly mismanaged Coble-Cromartie era. The mayor and council should listen to the minority and hold off any new bonds.