Bond referendum, broadband improvements top Wake Forest agenda

sbarr@newsobserver.comFebruary 4, 2014 

— The Board of Commissioners will gather this week just down the street from town hall for their annual retreat.

At the top of the agenda for the two-day meeting at the Renaissance Centre is developing a final list of projects and costs that will be part of a bond referendum later this year, said Town Manager Mark Williams.

Officials are hoping voters will head to the polls in May to vote on the bond issue.

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 year, consultants told the Board of Commissioners that they can afford to issue $25 million in bonds, an amount that could require a property tax increase, up from the current rate of 51 cents for every $100 of assessed value.

But, an increase may not be necessary if the town’s revenue increases enough to absorb the costs.

The town’s last bond referendum, for $16.5 million, took place in May 2005. Of that bond, $7 million went to parks and recreation and the remainder went to projects such as street and transportation improvements.

Mayor Vivian Jones said the bond will be a top issue, along with further discussions about how to make the best use of the Renaissance Centre, the town’s new cultural arts facility.

She said her focus is on making sure the bond moves forward smoothly and the Renaissance Centre has the support it needs, rather than introducing new initiatives for this year.

“As far as I'm concerned, I’m not really going to be pushing for a lot of new programs,” she said.

Another item high on the agenda for the meeting is how the town can bring the highest quality broadband Internet service to residents and local businesses.

Officials will begin talks about how to improve the local infrastructure and who will provide services using that infrastructure.

A 2011 state law put limits on what municipalities can do when it comes to developing broadband. As a result, the town probably would have to work with an existing provider to make any big changes.

The meeting begins Thursday with an orientation for new commissioner Jim Thompson and will continue through Friday.

As for the cost of the retreat, William expects the town will spend about $1,000 for a facilitator and couple of hundred dollars on food.

“We definitely don’t spend a lot of money to do it and our retreats have been successful,” he said.

Barr: 919-836-4952

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