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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Phase 1 - Streetscape and Pedestrian Improvement

Will streets in downtown Sanford or historic Jonesboro be closed?

To avoid closing any streets, the contractor will close parking spaces alongside the section of sidewalk being streetscaped. However, streets will need to be closed when the contractor is working in an intersection and for sections of sidewalk that don't have street parking.

Will businesses be closed during the streetscape work?

Not unless they choose to close. The contractor will install temporary walkways and paths to allow for foot traffic.

Will all of downtown Sanford or historic Jonesboro be torn up at once?

No. The work is being planned in stages to lessen the impact on downtown Sanford and historic Jonesboro. Crews will completely replace the existing sidewalks with concrete sidewalks, brick pavers, and granite curb before moving on to the next stage.

Is the project finished when the crews move on to the next stage?

Not quite. Crews will update all sections of sidewalk covered by the streetscape and pedestrian improvement bond project. After all sections are complete, they will return to move utilities underground, add street furniture, and add pedestrian-friendly landscaping.

How long will the construction last?

Each stage of the streetscape project is anticipated to last five to six weeks. Of course, weather is a factor in how timely the work can be completed. The first three stages of the project should be finished by August if all goes well.

FAQs from the 2013 Bond Referendum

Read the Take 5 from the July 6, 2013 edition of The Sanford Herald here.

What is a bond referendum?

A bond referendum is a voting process that gives voters the power to decide if a municipality should be authorized to raise funds through the sale of bonds. A general obligation (G.O.) bond is long-term borrowing in which a municipality pledges its full faith and credit (taxing power) to repay the debt over a specified term. G.O. bonds are the least costly financing option available to the City for these projects.

What is the purpose of a bond referendum?

Under North Carolina law, a local government holding a referendum for the purpose of issuing general obligation (G.O.) bonds must specify general categories of capital projects for which bond proceeds may be used. Within these categories, a local government may identify specific projects that are intended to be funded by the bond proceeds – the “bond package.”

However, due to the lengthy process involved with identifying, designing, and implementing projects, as well as the lack of detailed cost and other project information available at the time of the bond referendum, the specific projects identified in the bond package may change over time.

The question that the actual bond referendum therefore asks of voters is whether they authorize local government to use the G.O. bonds as a financing tool for the general category of projects up to the amount specified in the question.

Why use bond financing for these projects?

Bonds make capitol projects more affordable and put less stress on the City's budget. By using bonds to finance these projects, we can pay for them in installments over time rather than needing all the money at the outset.

How much would the City issue in bonds?

If citizens vote in favor of the four bond financing questions on the September 10th ballot, the City will have the authority to issue up to $14.5 million in general obligation (G.O.) bonds over seven years. If the projects cannot be initiated in seven years, the City may ask for a three-year extension from the North Carolina Local Government Commission.

Does this mean the City will wait seven years to begin these projects?

The seven years allotted for these bonds are not meant to give municipalities the ability to shelve projects until seven years have passed. The seven-year time period is meant to give municipalities some leeway in when they issue debt so that they can watch the bond market and initiate the bonds when the time is best financially -- just like how shoppers wait until interest rates are low to make a large purchase.

The City's goal is to initiate these projects as soon as possible and to stagger them over time to minimize the tax impact on residents. Seven years is the longest the City can take to initiate a project, not a goal for getting started.

Can I vote for some bond issues but not others?

Yes. There will be four bond projects: Streetscape and Pedestrian Improvement Bonds, Parks and Recreational Bonds, Greenways and Trails Bonds, and Sidewalk Improvement Bonds.

You can familiarize yourself with the questions that will appear on the ballot by viewing a sample ballot here.

What is the total tax rate implication for each bond referendum question?

Per $100 of assessed value of personal and real property:

Assuming that voters choose to invest in all four projects, which total $14.5 million – and that the City embarked on all four investments at once – the property tax impact could be up to 5.2 cents, or $52 per $100,000 of home value, each year.

However, Council’s intention is to stagger the projects to minimize the tax impact on residents. The goal is not to embark on all four projects at once.

Will taxes be applied to real property, only?

No. Taxes will be applied to all assessed value, which includes real and personal property, such as your vehicle or boat.

What happens if the bonds don’t pass in September?

The City is working with limited revenue growth. After operational expenses are calculated, there are little remaining funds left for capital improvements. If the bonds do not pass, the projects will have to compete with the already limited funding. Some projects will likely be postponed or eliminated.

If voters don’t approve the bonds, does this mean that the City Council will be prevented from raising property tax rates in the future?

No. The bond vote is a vote on whether the City may specifically use general obligation (G.O.) bond financing; it is not a vote on the property tax rate. The City Council may raise or lower the property tax rates each year depending on the amount of revenues the Council believes is necessary to meet the operational and capital needs of the municipal government.

Given the condition of the economy, is now the right time to vote on these particular bond initiatives?

While the economy hasn’t completely recovered, the City Council has determined that these investments are needed to move Sanford into the future. And, given the City’s sound financial management, Sanford can borrow money at low interest rates and issuance costs, thus saving Sanford taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars over the repayment period.

The City will have seven years (can be extended to 10) to issue/sell the bonds and 20 years to pay back the bonds after the funds are borrowed.

If the items included in the bond referendum are approved, how quickly would the projects begin?

Preliminary work has already been completed on some of these projects. We are now ready to take the next step.

If the items included in the bond referendum are approved, in what order would they begin?

Design and engineering work is nearly complete for the "Medical Mile" extension of the Endor Iron Furnace Trail and for the downtown streetscapes. Because these projects are close to "shovel ready," they are likely to be the first projects embarked upon, should voters approve them. Of course, there is no way to predict definitively until voters make their choice and the City is able to begin the final phases of those projects.

Where can I see more information about the potential bond projects?

Plans for potential work are available on our website. They are the Downtown Enhancement Plan, Sanford Pedestrian Plan, Medical Arts Village Concept Plan, and Sanford Comprehensive Bicycle Plan. Further information about potential projects will be posted and linked as it becomes available.

 

Want a City official or Council member to discuss the 2013 Bond Referendum at your next meeting or event? Call Kelly Quinones Miller at 919-777-1133 or email bonds@sanfordnc.net.

 

 


 
 

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