11/01/06 — Search for project's funding continues

View Archive

Search for project's funding continues

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 1, 2006 1:45 PM

Land along Center Street -- the future site of Goldsboro's planned recreation center -- has been purchased and final designs for the facility are on the way.

Still, City Council members are waiting for a final recommendation from city staff on how to fund the $10 million project -- and the Paramount Theater.

City Manager Joe Huffman said he and finance director Richard Durham continue to stay busy crunching numbers.

"Once the council made its decision (to fund both projects), it became our job to get it done," Huffman said.

But the task has been far from easy. At the City Council's Oct. 10 mini-retreat, Huffman said he needed help after representatives from First Southwest Co., a privately held, fully diversified investment banking firm, gave a presentation on tax increment financing.

Prior to the meeting, staff was considering recommending using the program for the Paramount and Community Building. Tax increment financing allows governments to borrow money for development projects based on projected increases in property value over time.

Tuesday, however, Huffman said there are better ways to get the job done.

"I'm leaning toward not going with tax increment financing," he said. "It looks like we might be able to structure our debt so that it will be a moot point. Our interest rates would actually be lower without it."

Still, a funding plan that will work hasn't yet been discovered. Huffman said he and other staff members are not throwing in the towel.

They will work tenaciously until the right plan comes along.

"Our job is to find a way," he said. "Anything is possible."

Anything except reduction of services in exchange for the combined $14 million facilities, he added.

"Our plan is to not reduce services," Huffman said. "It's not going to be easy, and there are no absolute guarantees about it, but we're going to try to do what we can to accomplish that."

And even if the right plan is unearthed in the near future, funding the projects could mean sacrifices for some departments in budget sessions to come, he added.

"I could see a code enforcement vehicle replacement or a police car needing to be purchased impacted," Huffman said. Those are things I could see happening."

And department heads citywide are willing to make those sacrifices, he added, because they know that they will get critical items they will need to get by until more money is available.

"This council has always given the department heads what they need," Huffman said. "My guess is they will continue to do that."