WAKE FOREST — Town officials are in the early stages of preparing for a bond referendum next spring.
If the referendum passes, the town can issue bonds that would help pay for projects such as new sections of Joyner Park, greenways and roadway improvements.
Earlier this month, a town consultant told the Board of Commissioners that they can afford to issue $25 million in bonds, an amount that could require a tax increase.
If the town were to raise property taxes just once, they would need to increase the tax rate on every $100 of assessed value by just under two cents. If the town increased taxes gradually, the rate could go up by nearly 3 cents after several years, according to the consultants. The town’s current rate is 51 cents.
But an increase may not even be necessary if the town’s revenue increases enough to absorb the costs.
“The growth might be there to pay for it,” said Aileen Staples, the town’s finance director. The consultants’ model assumes an annual growth rate of 3 percent, which Staples added is a conservative estimate.
There are many steps between now and when the public could vote on the referendum in May. This summer, the Board of Commissioners will have a series of work sessions on the referendum before finalizing the list in the fall. The town also will have to go before the regulatory agency that approves local bonds and will hold a public hearing in the spring.
Staples said the timetable is a tentative one. If voters approve the referendum, the order of the projects also is not permanent. Officials have the freedom to organize the bond releases to fit the town’s needs.
The consultants’ bond model assumes three releases of about $9.2 million, $9.4 million and $6.4 million in 2014, 2016 and 2018, respectively.
The town’s last bond referendum took place in May 2005 and was for $16.5 million. Of that bond, $7 million went to parks and recreation while the remainder went to projects including street and transportation improvements.