Former Guilford County Commissioner Alan Branson isn’t just not afraid of making waves – he actually relishes in doing it.
He made some big new waves at 3 p.m., on Wednesday, April 27 when his attorney walked into the Guilford County Board of Elections Office in downtown Greensboro and presented elections officials with a protest claiming that Guilford County government is spending taxpayer money to support two referendums on the ballot.
Branson said this week that he’d seen multiple and egregious examples of Guilford County government using taxpayer money to promote referendums on the May ballot, and he added that that is clearly illegal.
The complaint alleges that Guilford County government is in violation of NC General Statutes because it’s been using taxpayer money to promote the passage of the $1.7 billion school bond referendum on the May ballot, as well as to promote the passage of a quarter-cent sales tax increase.
The county is legally allowed to present information in a neutral way to “inform” voters regarding ballot referendums. However, it isn’t legal for the county to spend money encouraging voters to vote one way or another.
Branson, who’s running in the Republican primary for the sole at-large seat on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, said that county taxpayer money is being improperly used to support the $1.7 billion school bond on the ballot.
The former commissioner said one didn’t have to look far to find examples. He said, for instance, that one offense was on the front page of the county’s website, www.guilfordcountync.gov. Information provided there points out plenty of benefits of the school bond but there’s no discussion of the hundreds of millions of dollars that county taxpayers will have to pay back if the school bonds referendum passes.
Branson told the Rhino Times that, though he knows this move – calling for the state to investigate – will ruffle plenty of feathers, he has seen a mountain of evidence that Guilford County’s taxpayer money is being used in this highly improper way. He added that he’d heard complaints from others who had seen other examples as well.
Branson also predicted that, once all the facts come out, the legal violation regarding the use of taxpayer money will be crystal clear to anyone paying attention.
“This is not just me going off, “ Branson said. “There is a lot of evidence.”
Branson has been preaching loudly for three years about what the backers of the giant school bond don’t like to focus on – that paying back a $1.7 billion loan will mean putting tremendous financial pressure on the county’s taxpayers.
Branson said it is important that voters get that side of the message as well – because they’re the ones who are going to be paying back the money over the next two decades or so.