By Del Arrendale
Issuing bonds to pay for Cornelius infrastructure has been a point for discussion in meetings I have attended at town hall since 2010. As chairman of the Parks Arts Recreation and Culture Board, and past chairman of the Transportation Advisory Board, I have witnessed the explosive growth of our town.
Like many of you, my family has accepted that Lake Norman will build to capacity by the end of this decade. We all live here because of the quaintness of our town and the beauty of Lake Norman. If you love Cornelius as my family does, you want to have some control over its outcome.
Unrestricted growth will prevent us from developing a community friendly to business while offering residents and visitors access to culture, parks and greenways. The proposed bond package is designed to give future town boards more flexibility and control of our destiny by issuing bonds over time and only as needed and approved. The problem we all face is available land for infrastructure is quickly disappearing.
Land is generally expensive around the lake and hard for the town to come by once it is developed. Land prices and interest rates are at all-time lows. Now is the time to purchase land for parks, greenways, town centers, road connectors and intersections.
Over the years, town staff and various boards have identified specific projects that could benefit Cornelius. Many of these projects ended up in the Cornelius Master Plan, a community project that many Cornelius residents worked on for more than a year. The items identified in the bond package reflect the desires of the CMP.
Your PARC commissioners have spent many hours reviewing budgets, land usage plans and identifying projects that will improve our quality of life. I urge each person to spend a few minutes and read a brochure called simple “bond program” found on line at www.cornleius.org/DocumentCenter/View/845. The bond program brochure explains what projects be considered and what they could cost if funded now. If voters approve one, two or all three bonds on Nov. 5, future boards will be tasked to identify specific projects, fully perform due-diligence on need verses cost, and take a vote to sell bonds as needed. The next Cornelius Town Board of Commissioners must be good stewards of our money. The bond process adopted by the current board will allow for open discussing for future projects. The public will have a chance to be heard before a bond will be issued.
The cost of the bonds will be borne by Cornelius taxpayers. Voting in favor of the bond program is the one instance I will vote in favor of raising my taxes. If the bond referendum passes, not only will the town blossom, but also the quality of life will improve as sound transportation infrastructure, park system with trails, sidewalks and greenways, and a cultural center are realized.
Many of us remember when West Cornelius was a two-lane small town country road, back in 2002. When the board decided to widen Catawba, the town opted to raise taxes and employ a “pay as you go" strategy. That board imposed a 2.5 cent per $100 dollar valuation increase to retire the Catawba widening debt in six years. Under the proposed bond package, if we sold all of the bonds tomorrow, and paid the debt from a 1 cent per $100 valuation tax increase, we would pay off bond debt in about ten years. Once we retired the debt for widening Catawba, the board then reduced the tax rates, and I expect the new board would do so again.
As chairman of the PARC board, I am an avid supporter of the bond program and praise our town board and mayor for their vision and courage. Each voter is encouraged to take the time to check out the bond program by studying the brochure. Read the Cornelius Master Plan, http://cornelius.org/index.aspx?NID=314.
Del Arrendale serves as chairman of the Cornelius Parks, Arts, Recreation and Culture Board. Editor’s note: This story was condensced due to space. Go to www.huntersvilleherald.com to read the full story.