07/30/13 — City eyeing parks plans

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City eyeing parks plans

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on July 30, 2013 1:46 PM

The Goldsboro City Council discussed the possibility of a bond referendum to pay for improvements to the city's park system at its meeting Monday night.

After a presentation by the Parks and Recreation Director Scott Barnard outlining the needs in the parks system the conversation turned to funding.

Barnard outlined three of the city's biggest upcoming projects that needed to be addressed in the next few years: the construction of the new W.A. Foster Recreation Center, the possible construction of a multi-sports complex in partnership with the Goldsboro Family YMCA and improvements to the park system's flagship, Herman Park, as well as Herman Park Center.

Council members then discussed whether to call for an $18 million bond referendum to fund the three projects, $6 million each.

Councilman Gene Aycock asked what the increase to the property tax would be.

Finance Director Kaye Scott said the increase would be about 3 cents on the tax rate.

If the bond referendum process started in January it could be approved by May, she said.

Financing the recreation projects through a bank would lead to higher interest rates because recreation projects are seen as nonessential and easier to walk away from, Mrs. Scott said.

"If you go with the bond, the tax levy is the collateral," she said.

If funding for the projects is done through conventional bank borrowing, which would be paid back in 10 to 15 years, the interest rate would be 3.25 percent. If it is paid through selling bonds the payback would be over 20 years at 3 percent.

Of the three projects City Manager Scott Stevens said two of them, W.A. Foster and the multi-sports complex, could be funded through conventional means without much trouble.

"We can afford W.A. Foster with or without the bond," Stevens said. "The multi-sports complex is harder. If we need the cash up front, we could sell property for it."

The debt service on the complex would be paid through occupancy tax dollars which come from Travel and Tourism.

"The one that suffers is Herman Park Center because otherwise it will just be fixed until piece by piece it falls apart," Stevens said.

He said that fixing Herman Park Center is expensive and will only become more costly as the time passes.

Councilman William Goodman said that he would want the new W.A. Foster project pulled out of a bond referendum to avoid the 6-to-12 month delay on the project Stevens estimated would be needed.

Councilman Chuck Allen said that he would want to see a greenway project included in the bond referendum to include something for everyone but that he believes people want to be able to see what the bond funds are used for.

"Let's put it out for a vote and let the people tell us," Allen said.

In addition to funding, Stevens brought up the topic of using design-build to construct the new W.A. Foster Center -- a way to save money on the project by bidding it out for a single contract with an architect and a contractor working together to design and construct the building.

Allen expressed interest in the design-build process at the last City Council meeting, citing Wayne County's success with the process.