City begins meetings on new bonds

City begins meetings on new bonds
February 01
10:03 2018

A 2018 bond referendum is getting closer to reality as the City Council held a special meeting on Monday, Jan. 29.

The City Council listened as Assistant City Manager Ben Rowe gave a presentation on city general obligation bonds. The last one was in 2014, and most of the projects for that $139.2 million bond referendum are complete, though a few remaining projects haven’t broken ground yet. Other cities have bonds more regularly. Charlotte has had four bond referendums since 2008 and Raleigh has had four since 2011.

“We’ve only had two: one in 2000 and one in 2014, so that’s a pretty good stretch, so it’s not out of the question to have another issued fairly soon after the other one,” said Mayor Allen Joines.

The council will hold its next bond workshop on Feb. 26 followed by community meetings where council members will get public feedback in March and April. The City Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution for publishing a Notice of Intent and submitting an application to the Local Government Commission on May 21, when they’ll set the maximum on how much the bond can be. On August 6, the council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the bonds and vote on them so they can appear on the ballot for the Nov. 6 general election.

The Citizens’ Capital Needs Committee narrowed the city’s $630 million worth of capital needs down to a  $120.3 million bond package that would result in a four-cent property tax increase. Among the many projects in the recommendations are $9.7 million to revitalize neighborhoods with a focus on housing rehabilitation and multi-family units for workforce housing.

There’s $27.1 million for street resurfacing plus money to transform Liberty, Main, First and Second streets into two-way streets. For parks, there’s facility and playground renewal, Strollway renovations and second phases for Winston Lake, Salem Lake and Quarry Parks. There’s also $10 million to replace the public safety radio communications system and $5 million for a new fire station in the Burke Mill Road area.

In addition, there have been $41 million in projects that have been added for consideration since the committee’s report. They are:

• $2.5 million for renovations to the Liberty Street Corridor, including streetscape enhancements, property acquisition, demolition, land banking and new construction.

• $4 million for streetscape improvement on Fifth Street from US-52 to Martin Luther King Drive.

• $5 million for a Liberty Plaza Children’s Park on the corner of Liberty and Third streets. The funds cover demolition of existing structures and construction.

• $5 million for two parks along the downtown Strollway. The funds cover land acquisition, including buying the former US Bankruptcy Court building, demolition and construction.

• $2.5 million for Winston Square Park renovations that include adding an overhead shade structure, improved lighting and the removal of some concrete structures and abandoned utilities.

• $2 million for the second phase of Hanes Park, which includes renovations to the tennis courts and ball field and building an overlook next to Wiley Middle School.

• $20 million for Washington Park renovations including deferred maintenance, reorienting the ball fields, improved parking and lighting and creating more open space.

During the meeting, City Council member Dan Besse requested that more money be put towards the extensions of Salem Creek and Little Creek greenways.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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