Board considers bond referendum
by Staff Writer
HUNTERSVILLE – Commissioners took a step toward putting a $29.5 million bond referendum on the ballot in November that would raise property taxes if passed.
The Huntersville town board approved the language that would appear on the ballot at its Monday, May 21, meeting. This is the first of several steps required to put the measure on the ballot in November. The referendum would be the first in Huntersville since 2003.
“We know that a bond package of this size cannot be absorbed into the existing operating budget without new revenue sources,” Town Manager Greg Ferguson said. He added that the anticipated increase has not been calculated yet, but that it would be forecast and the information released ahead of the election. Calculating that tax increase would be complicated without knowing what interest rates will be late next year.
The tax hike would likely be between three and five cents per $100 of assessed value. Tax increases probably wouldn’t take place until the budget is approved in June of 2014.
The bonds would appear as three separate items on the November ballot. The first and largest is $17.35 million of bonds for transportation projects. While the ballot language doesn’t include any specific projects, the request is tied to projects outlined in the town’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). Proposed transportation projects include improvements to the intersection of Gilead Road and Highway 21, including additional turn lanes and through lanes, and a major overhaul of Main Street in the downtown area. The Main Street improvement would allow Main Street and U.S. 115 to function as a pair, with northbound traffic routed to Main Street and southbound traffic onto 115.
Extending Stumptown Road is not in the CIP, but commissioners discussed adding the project and funding it with bond money.
Residents may vote on $7.15 million of bonds for public facility construction and improvement. That money would be used for two additional fire stations, one for the southwest quadrant of town in the Long Creek Volunteer Fire Department service area, the other to serve the area north and west of I-77.
The final item would be $5 million of bonds for park and recreation facilities. The bulk of this – more than $4 million – would likely go toward construction of a recreation center, with another $500,000 currently earmarked for improvements to the farmer’s market downtown.