12/17/13 — City moves ahead with bond

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City moves ahead with bond

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on December 17, 2013 1:46 PM

The Goldsboro City Council approved a resolution Monday authorizing the city finance director to apply with the state to hold an $18.9 million bond referendum in May.

The bonds, if approved, would be sold to pay for four major Parks and Recreation projects across the city.

About $6 million each would be pointed to a new W.A. Foster Recreation Center, a multi-sports complex and renovations to Herman Park Center and Herman Park. The remaining funds would go for greenway paving along Stoney Creek.

Goldsboro resident Bob Jackson spoke during the public comment period, asking the council to reconsider the funding source of collateral for the bond, which would be the city's taxing power.

If approved as is, the city property tax rate would increase 3 cents. The current rate is 65 cents per $100.

The increase would bring in about $600,000 more in tax revenue per year.

Jackson asked that the council consider a sales tax increase as an alternative to a property tax increase.

"As you will remember, we had a 13 percent tax increase the year before last and this would be just under a 5 percent increase," Jackson said. "It seems we're looking to property owners to pay the bill so to speak. I think you should look at a sales tax increase instead of property owners paying for this."

A sales tax increase would need to be approved by the state Legislature and the county, City Finance Director Kaye Scott said.

Council members said they would look into other avenues of paying for the bond.

Councilman Chuck Allen said putting the issue on the ballot is a way of allowing the public to decide how to pay for the projects.

"In the last 20 years the city has not done much for what I would say is quality of life," Allen said. "We're getting better, but we're not there yet. We can do it all over the next 20 years, a couple million at a time. The theory was we can put it out for a vote to see if the people want it now."

The state Local Government Commission would have to approve the city's application before the vote.

A report on the city's current debt management showed that Goldsboro could handle the new $18.9 million debt, but would likely structure the projects to take on the debt in smaller chunks with a year or two in between bond sales.

"The capacity is there within the policies. We have the capacity for them," City Finance Director Kaye Scott said. "It's structured so it wouldn't be a burden."

The Council also heard an update from Assistant City Manager Randy Guthrie about the status of the $10 million U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant for downtown transportation projects. The grant would pay for a new GATEWAY bus transfer station, site work around Goldsboro Union Station and the remaining blocks of Streetscape.

Guthrie said that the city will have to abide by more stringent regulations with the coming blocks than before due to federal regulations on building and buying material. Federal regulations mandate a certain amount of building materials be bought from American companies as well as having more stringent bid regulations.

Goldsboro's TIGER grant will be controlled through the Federal Transportation Authority in Atlanta, requiring more travel to the office for meetings and training. A budget amendment of about $15,000 is expected to come before the council in the coming weeks to cover travel expenses for the grant.

Guthrie said that all of the projects should be out to bid in the spring and contracts awarded by June. The city's local match for the grant will be $4 million.

In other business, the Goldsboro Police Department spoke against an application to use the former Party Central location as a nightclub again, though this time without an ABC permit. Jerald Huffman is seeking a conditional use permit to operate an entertainment center at the Corporate Drive location.

Huffman previously sought a permit to operate the space with an ABC permit but was denied based on past violence at the club. His application was denied without prejudice to allow him to come back after a six-month waiting period to apply for the permit without an ABC permit.

A June 2010 shooting was cited when a 17-year-old and an 20-year-old were shot during a graduation dance to show the danger even without alcohol involved.

Huffman owns Morgan's and Cameron's clubs and said he has more experience than the previous owner.

The Council also voted to remove a stoplight at Holly and John streets to be replaced with a four-way-stop.