Lake Norman Publications

Davidson moves toward strategic plan updates, bond financing flexibility

DAVIDSON – Blending fresh perspectives with familiar topics, the town is set to adopt an updated Strategic Plan outlining objectives and priority pursuits for the next two years.

At the March 12 town board work session, Assistant Town Manager Austin Nantz provided commissioners with a comprehensive summary of issues discussed and ideas shared during February’s two-day planning retreat involving town staff and elected officials.

The retreat featured an assortment of group and individual assignments with new ideas and “out of the box” thinking encouraged, with those possibilities and suggestions shared, in most cases, on Post It notes placed under categorized headings.

While the categories of stated municipal goals remained constant, the composite message culled from retreat feedback – what Mayor Rusty Knox described as “the culmination of those eight million Post-its” – resulted in multiple areas of reshaped and redefined town goals.

The types of tweaks made under six of the town’s seven Strategic Plan categories – with topics that include Historic Preservation, Economic Development, Affordable Living and Connecting People and Places – is illustrated by a mission statement wording change for the town’s Goal A “Healthy, Livable & Vibrant Community” topic, where “efforts to create livable spaces and healthy places to enhance the quality of life for all residents” was adopted as an update and amplification of the previous “well-planned livable community” objective.

Pursuit of steps blending stated objectives – like ways to unite the preservation of historic homes with efforts to provide affordable workplace housing – is also stipulated in the revised Strategic Plan, which is slated for final board consideration and potential adoption on March 26.

The amended Strategic Plan for 2024-25 also folds evolving municipal efforts – like the Vision Zero pedestrian and mobility safety program – into appropriate categories and places enhanced emphasis on the “Sustainability/Natural Assets” category tied in with the recent municipal staff addition of Sustainability Manager Kayla Kovach and short- and long-range town goals including efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2037 to coincide with the town’s bicentennial.


Bond extension

Also at the March 12 session, the board held a public hearing related to plans to extend the timeframe to use bond-backed debt from a three-pronged funding package authorized by town voters in 2017.

In 2017, Davidson residents approved a General Obligation bond referendum that included $6 million for transportation and mobility projects, $5 million for greenway improvements and $4 million for parks and recreation projects.

By state statute, approved GO bonds must be issued within seven years, but a three-year extension is allowed through what Finance Director Piet Swart told commissioners was “a relatively common practice,” even without the circumstances surrounding the COVID pandemic that disrupted many plans and projects.

In 2021, the town issued $4.145 million of the available bonds for a variety of projects in each category, with the bulk of the funding for park projects; and in 2023 the town issued $3.915 million, with mobility and greenway projects the highest priorities. 

From the $15 million total available in 2017, the town has used or committed $8,060,000 – nearly all of the Parks & Recreation $4 million, just over half of the greenway $5 million and less than one-third of the mobility $6 million.

There is $6.940 million remaining, with about two-thirds of it – $4.220 million – in the transportation/mobility category.

In his report, Swart said the remaining bond-backed dollars would likely be leveraged as matching contributions to prioritized projects.

In the mobility/transportation category, anticipated town contributions to the Potts-Sloan-Beaty Connector, the Beaty Street Sidepath and planned upgrades to the Beaty/North Main Street intersection would account for more than $3.7 million, with a town project to realign and improve the intersection of Concord, Pine and Grey roads requiring just under $500,000.

In the greenways category, $1.75 million toward the Rocky River to Summers Walk link, and $930,000 toward the West Branch Rocky River Carolina Thread Trail section are anticipated matching contributions using the remaining funds.

The extension would allow the town to establish firm plans and timelines for using the funding before triggering the debt financing that begins when bonds are issued.

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