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Letters to the editor – Saturday (5-7-2011)

Some random observations about city budget, Fibrant
What a delight to open my morning paper and see the multiple ways our city fathers plan to fund our fair city next year. Some random thoughts:
1. Donít brag and tell me we have not had a tax increase in four years when raising the water/sewer charge every year is still taking more money out of my pocket! It is a tax increase but just spelled differently.
2. No merit or cost of living raises. Letís carry this one more step to include no bonus whether it be big, small or in between.
3. If we are finding out now that we can operate with fewer employees, then perhaps we have had too many all along, which helped to create our present dilemma. For years it has been sickeningly amusing to see a street repair crew with one man digging and several others standing around ěsupervising.î
4. Wowee, no increase in Fibrant rates. This is poor consolation for a program that was ill conceived to start with, forced on taxpayers and will probably only survive if the $30-plus million is paid off by taxpayers who had no voice in whether we wanted or even needed the program. Incidentally, could we perhaps publish a list of all of the new businesses waiting in line to come to Salisbury just because of the availability of this space-age wonder? Further, how will the cost of expanding the system to other cities be funded? The fact that North Carolina law empowers a small group of city officials to obligate their citizens with a debt without a vote by the people may be legally correct but that does not make it morally correct.
5. Finally, I am amused by the frequent newspaper articles written by our mayor and others trying to convince the public and maybe even themselves what a wonderful panacea Fibrant will be for all of Salisburyís financial woes.
ó Sam L. Hoffman
Salisbury
Fibrant criticism unfounded
Iím not sure what Robert. Stoneís concern is about Fibrant (May 6 letter). He doesnít live in Salisbury, and clearly doesnít want to live here. If he doesnít want to live in Salisbury, why does he care about Salisburyís finances or its Fibrant network?
Fibrant was discussed thoroughly by the City Council prior to any action being taken. City personnel were readily available for individuals and groups who had questions. The Certificate of Participation loan is secured by Fibrantís property, not the cityís credit. More to the point, with the major capital investment already in place, commercial cable companies would be delighted to buy Fibrant in the unlikely event it became a problem.
Actually, Fibrant is doing extremely well for a start-up business. As of the end of April, after five months in business Fibrant has about 850 customers, or about 7 percent of the total residential market. If it continues to sign up an average of 200 new customers a month, the seven months remaining would result in 1,400 new customers or more than 2,000 for the first year, half way to the target of 4,000 customers by the fourth year of operations.
Mr. Stone is wrong about other city employees having to bear some sort of burden until Fibrant breaks even financially. Initial losses are covered by the loan, something which is quite normal with startup businesses. No city jobs or departments are at risk due to Fibrant and claims to the contrary are simply untrue. In fact, by offering businesses a high-speed fiber optic system, the city should be able to attract new businesses with the associated increase in taxes and jobs.
Of course the City Council wants regular updates. Any board or council would. Once again, I donít understand Mr. Stoneís concerns, since he doesnít want to live in the city. If Fibrant ever expands to his neighborhood he is free to stick with his current provider. For those of us who do live in the city, Fibrant has proved a success.
ó John P. Burke
Salisbury
Sculpture Show a success
On behalf of the board of directors of Downtown Salisbury, Inc., Iíd like to thank the Salisbury Post for your April 3 coverage of the 2011 Salisbury Sculpture Show.
This show offers a great opportunity for everyone in Rowan County to experience art in our own back yard. The layout printed in the Post and the description of the show was fantastic.
Also, thanks to all those who donated time and money to make this possible. We want to especially thank our patrons, Edward and Susan Norvell; the Public Art Committee and Chairman Barbara Perry; the Waterworks Visual Arts Center and Executive Director Anne Scott Clement, who hosted the artists symposium; and our city staff coordinator, Lynn Raker, who works tirelessly on the details of the show.
From abstract to whimsical, this yearís show offers a great opportunity to experience art from across the east coast here in Downtown Salisbury. For more information, please visit www.salisburysculpture.com.
ó Paula Bohland
Salisbury
Bohland is president of Downtown Salisbury, Inc.

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