WAKE FOREST — Town voters are expected to head to the polls in November to weigh in on a $25 million bond that would help pay for projects such as new sections of Joyner Park, greenways and roadway improvements.
Officials orginally expected the referendum would be held in May but decided at last week’s town retreat to push the date back to Nov. 4.
The change gives staff more time to prepare for the bond, and officials hope it will encourage greater voter turnout because state and federal mid-term elections will be held at the same time.
“Doing it in November is actually a cleaner process,” said town manager Mark Williams.
Aileen Staples, the town’s finance director, said the draft of the bond referendum calls for two ballot questions that voters would consider separately: $6.3 million for street and sidewalk improvement question and $18.8 million for park and recreation facilities.
Though the bond itself would be $25 million, it would contribute to projects worth $56.6 million. Much of the difference between the amounts is made up by grants.
Staples said the bond could require a property tax increase of 1.85 cents, 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 revenues increase enough to absorb the costs. Williams said the estimate is based on a conservative projection of the town’s growth.
Commissioner Zachary Donahue asked that town staff determine how big of a bond the town could allow without requiring any potential tax increase.
“I’d be more comfortable if we could disclose our worst case scenario is we don’t even have to raise taxes,” he said.
Williams said that whether or not a tax increase accompanies the bond, the commissioners likely will soon have other tax questions to answer.
“I can guarantee you the fire department is going to come to you and want to raise the fire tax,” he said. The department anticipates building and staffing a new fire station in the next few years.
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.
At the retreat, the board also decided to convene a task force that will study the question of how to bring faster broadband connections to residences and businesses owners. Officials are particularly interested in including members from the latter group.