HUNTERSVILLE – After months of discussion, the Huntersville town board decided $58 million was the sweet spot for a general obligation bond referendum to add to the November ballot.
At January’s town budget retreat, town staff recommended a bond referendum that would ask voters to approve $60 million in bonds for transportation projects and $10 million for parks and recreation projects, for a total of $70 million. But some of the commissioners felt such a large number would not be palatable to citizens.
“At the retreat when we talked about where we were at, I was at 45 (million) and other commissioners were at 70 (million). I think this is a good compromise to present to the people to vote for and allow them their feelings on it come election time,” said Commissioner Rob Kidwell.
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the publication of intent to apply to the Local Government Commission for approval of the bonds, which would ask voters to authorize $50 million in transportation bonds and $8 million in parks and recreation bonds.
While $58 million will only cover a portion of the projects on the town’s Capital Improvement Plan, the General Obligation Bond does not tie the debt to particular projects. Rather it lists potential projects that the town will need to issue debt to cover, including “constructing, reconstructing, enlarging, extending and improving streets” and “renovating and expansion of existing parks and recreation facilities and athletic fields.”
“It allows for flexibility within both (bond requests) – pretty standard language,” said Town Manager Anthony Roberts.
Commissioner Lance Munger previously proposed that the town ask for all the money necessary to complete the CIP, which would be between $100 million and $130 million. But he conceded last month that not all the projects would be able to be completed within the 10-year bond-package time frame, so he favored the staff’s recommendation of $70 million.
(Statutes require debt secured by municipal General Obligation Bonds to be used within seven years, with a three-year extension on that deadline common practice.)
Compromise won out in the end, with very little discussion before Monday night’s vote to pursue the bond referendum.
Once the intent to pursue a bond referendum is published in local newspapers, the town will apply to the Local Government Commission for approval. If all goes as planned, the two bond referendum questions will be on November’s ballot.
In other business, the town approved a Special Use Permit request by hep Petra Development to allow a solar energy facility on Jim Kidd Road. Commissioners also approved two text amendments to the zoning ordinance that were requested by the town’s planning department to clarify processes and allow for more flexibility in business signage.
Also at the meeting, The North Mecklenburg CrimeStoppers organization presented Huntersville Police Chief Bence Doyle with a plaque to thank him for his years of assistance to the agency and wish him well in retirement. The town also voted to present Doyle, who is wrapping up a 37-year law enforcement career that has included two stints as chief in Huntersville and 12 years as police chief in Cornelius, with his service firearm. Doyle retires at the end of the month.
Major Barry Graham, a 26-year veteran of the Huntersville Police Department, has been named as Doyle’s successor.
Memorial Day plans
The town and American Legion Post 321 will host Huntersville’s 22nd annual Memorial Day Ceremony at Veterans Park, 201 Huntersville-Concord Road, Monday, May 29.
The free event will feature patriotic music starting at 10:30 a.m. with the North Mecklenburg Community Chorus. Audience participation is encouraged through the display of red, white and blue either through dress and/or flags.
Ceremonies will begin at 11 a.m. and end with a Salute to the Fallen by members of the American Legion Post 321. Colors will be presented by cadets from the North Mecklenburg High School Junior ROTC program, led by bagpiper David Thornburg, and will be retired by the Civil Air Patrol. For information, contact Lindsay Small at LSmall@Huntersville.org or 704-766- 2253 or Maria Cepeda at MCepeda@Huntersville.org or 704-766-2255.
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