Monday, July 20, 2009

What would Jesus refinance?

The Glen Mar United Methodist Church wants the county to issue municipal bonds to finance the church's expansion into the day care business. The bonds would be sold to Columbia Bank, and the debt would be the obligation of the church.

According to Mr. Richard Story of the Economic Development Authority, the church cannot use the proceeds for religious purposes (whatever the heck that can be interpreted to mean):
According to Story, the Glen Mar project creates no liability for county taxpayers and will help the church build a facility for needed child care, without crossing the church-state line.

"None of the proceeds can be used for religious purposes," Story said, and the buildings will not have obvious religious symbols, like icons or stained-glass windows. Any violation of that would mean the church could lose its nonprofit tax exemption. Story said the authority has received very few requests from churches.

Even if it is true that the church cannot use the proceeds for religious purposes under any circumstances (and I hope that is the case), it does not then follow that the taxpayers should effectively subsidize the financing costs of the church's expansion into a business that is unrelated to the church's exempt purpose. If the church wanted to start a non-religious coffee shop or perhaps a dog grooming facility, should tax payers have to subsidize the interests costs via a municipal bond issue? Of course not.

Any time politically connected organizations like the Howard County Economic Development Authority work with the County Council to curry favor for other private groups, the end result is all the greed of private business without that greed being channeled by the marketplace to work for good. Instead, that greed leverages the force and coercion of government to rip us all off.


Anonymous said...

these kinds of bonds are always done at the request of the beneficiary - there is no "currying" of favor on the part of the Council or HCEDA. It just means that the Glen Mar folks are smart. The County has, in the past, authorized these kinds of bonds for Tai Sophia and Glenelg Country School. Has that been the end of civilization?

Freemarket said...

The county council is not a bank, and should not act like one. There are plenty of private lenders who would be happy to compete for providing loans to any business with a good idea. This entire bond program is nonsense.

Anonymous said...

How is the County Council acting like a bank or currying favor? They are not lending any money, as your story notes. Take a breathe and remeber your own facts.

There is an argument to be made about not helping a church or a non profit. Not that HCEDA and the County Council are somehow in cahoots becuase the church asked the HCEDA, as hundreds of organizations have over the last 40 years, and the Council heard the request.

Freemarket said...

Anon, I suggest that you remember the facts. The council is doing the Columbia bank and the church a favor by issuing muni bonds for this transaction. The council's involvment gives these bonds favorable tax attributes which benefit both parties at the harm of the taxpayer.

Maybe suggesting that the council is operating like a bank was too strong- but they are certainly acting like a broker.

Anonymous said...

This will continue to happen and will grow. No reporter is going to put a negative spin on gov't money to private sector when the organization is part of the community. For example, MD issues muni bonds for Johns Hopkins - what reporter would dare call that suspect?

Anonymous said...

before they get any money, how about making them pay to put a light in at the intersection of the new New Cut Rd and 103. hopefully HoCo doesn't pay their police cadets to waste the day sitting there watching as traffic backs up and no one can pull out.