01/07/05 — Sewer bond hearing to be held by city

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Sewer bond hearing to be held by city

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on January 7, 2005 2:01 PM

Goldsboro citizens can voice their opinions about extending the period in which the city must issue its sewer bonds, but the state has already approved the extension.

The City Council scheduled a public hearing for Jan. 18. It received permission for an extension in November from the Local Government Commission.

The Local Government Commission oversees debt issues for cities and won't allow a city to sell bonds and simply hold the money without a project under way.

The city's authority to issue these particular bonds is scheduled to expire later this year.

In 1998, Goldsboro voters approved $28 million in sewer and street bonds. The city had planned to use the $22 million in sewer bonds to expand its wastewater treatment plant, make improvements in the sewage system and meet environmental regulations designed to reduce pollution in the Neuse River.

But the city opted not to issue the bonds for the improvements in the sewage system. Instead, it received a $15 million low-interest loan and a $3 million loan from the Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund. The interest rate on the state loans was about half what it would be from the sale of the city bonds.

The city then decided to use $7 million of the sewer bond money for extending sewer lines to an area it planned to annex. The proposed annexation includes the east and west sides of Salem Church Road and the north and south sides of Buck Swamp Road.

But as long as the legal fight with residents of the proposed annexed area continues, the city can't get the money from the bonds.

State law says that bonds must be issued within seven years of voter approval.

In November, the city asked the Local Government Commission for a three year extension, and the commission said yes. The next step is to hold the public hearing and allow citizen input, but another vote of the people isn't necessary.

After hearing comments from the public on Jan. 18, the council can pass a resolution to extend the life of the bonds.