Wayne County is expected to close by the end of the month on a $42 million bond issue for schools, the Maxwell Regional Agricultural and Convention Center and several other projects.
Only two people spoke during a Tuesday morning public hearing before Wayne County commissioners on the sale.
A third speaker didn't wait until the public hearing, speaking instead during the public comments portion of the board meeting.
One spoke in favor of the bonds, one asked questions, and the third opposed the bonds while questioning just who the commissioners are as well as their leadership ability.
The bond includes $20 million for a new Meadow Lane Elementary School, and a wing to house Edgewood Community Developmental School, and $12,042,604 for the Maxwell Regional Agricultural and Convention Center.
A limited obligation bond, which the county will use, is secured by some asset or combination of assets related to the financing.
In this case, the assets are the buildings.
Other projects the bonds will be used for include:
$2,615,869 for a sewer line between Grantham Middle School and the county landfill at Dudley.
$3.2 million for a new gym and six classrooms at Southern Wayne High School.
$400,000 to install HVAC systems in three middle school gyms.
$610,000 for an information technology project for the public safety offices fiber optic loop and extension to the Maxwell Regional Agricultural and Convention Center.
$1.3 million for software for the Sheriff's Office, dispatchers, 911, EMS and the jail.
$2.22 million for the Canterbury Village street repairs. This will be repaid by residents of the subdivision through a special property tax levy.
A public vote was not required, and Commissioner Ed Cromartie's motion following the public hearing to proceed with the bond sale was unanimously approved.
"Just a few highlights, again out of the $2 million, a little over $26 million of that is in fact school construction improvements," Commissioner Joe Daughtery said. "The repayment of those borrowed funds come specially from sales tax or lottery dollars that are earmarked specially for school construction.
"You can't use those dollars anywhere else other than school construction. But the county has go to go out and borrow those dollars in order to build those structures."
Of the remaining $16 million, $1.6 million is for overdue improvements to software to keep county residents safe, he said.
The $2.6 million for a sewer extension at Grantham Elementary and Grantham Middle schools will help the community at large, he said.
As for the $12 million for the agricultural center, the country and city of Goldsboro worked together to get the General Assembly to increase the hotel occupancy tax, he said.
Revenue form that tax will go to support the center, Daughtery said.
Shirley Edwards spoke in support of the bond sale.
While there are questions about some part of the project, Mrs. Edwards said she applauded the board for the long overdue addressing of school issues.
"I am really pleased that you are doing something at Southern Wayne, and for that matter our special needs children," she said.
Mrs. Edwards said that she hopes when the agricultural and convention center is completed that the county will look at diversity when hiring staff.
"Many times we don't do this in our hiring of our building and services," she said. "But overall I support the bond. I just think that we can always do better in diversity in this county. We lag behind some other places."
Melvin Taft of Mount Olive didn't wait for the public hearing, speaking instead during the public comments portion of the meeting.
Taft said he was "alarmed" about what he had read in the newspaper about the $42 million commissioners want to spend.
"I have asked over two dozen people concerning this personally and other people who have overheard what I have said and talked to other people. It is appalling that you would even ask for it. No one I have talked to is in favor of it at all."
But most of his comments were personal, critical and directed more at commissioners than the bond sale.
"The other thing that is absolutely absurd to me is that no one knows who you are," he said. "No one I asked, about 25 people, even know who any of you are. I think there are two parties out of touch -- I think it is you and the people, too."
One reason the board is out of touch is because of a 9 a.m. meeting, he said. Commissioners should have evening and even Saturday meetings, Taft said.
Jim Twiggs said he was "astounded" that out of the thousands of county residents that nearly no one was at the public hearing.
Twiggs had three questions for the board -- what will the total interest payment be; what would be used for collateral should the county default; and how many years was Wood "prognosticating" there would be no tax increase because of the bonds.
The total interest over the 20-year life of the bonds is estimated at $17 million, Wood said.
The school board has convened the Meadow Lane Elementary and Southern Wayne High School properties to the county. The buildings will be put up as collateral, County Attorney Borden Parker said.
"That is the same thing that happened with the two new middle schools," Parker said.
The agricultural and convention center building will be put up as collateral for the money borrowed to complete it, he said.
"The county will not default," Wood said. "In North Carolina the state treasurer's office will not allow a local government to default. If nothing else is paid in your budget in a year, your debt will be paid."
The bond issue will not cause a tax increase, Wood said.
"The only way you would have a tax increase is if you do something in the future," he said. "There is no tax increase required for these bond because we have about $2 million in debt coming off. This will basically slid in there in its place."