(Raleigh, N.C.) – Boiling Spring Lakes went dry from a hurricane, but City Manager Gordon Hargrove said action by the Local Government Commission (LGC) will help to restore the city’s lakes, increase safety during future weather events, sustain the tax base and preserve the city’s identity.
The LGC, chaired by State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, and staffed by the Department of State Treasurer (DST), voted during its meeting Tuesday, Dec. 6, to approve a request from the Brunswick County municipality to issue $20 million in general obligation bonds. City Commissioners will use the money to repair and build four dams and a road damaged by Hurricane Florence in 2018.
Voters approved the bonds by referendum on Nov. 8. Total cost of the project is estimated at nearly $57 million, with other funds coming from a Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement, Department of Defense grant, and appropriations from the General Assembly and Brunswick County.
“It’s really the city’s identity. It’s in our name. It’s our heritage,” Hargrove said of the now dry lakes and the need to rebuild Sanford Dam, Patricia Lake Upper Dam, Pine Lake Dam and North Lake Dam, and repair Dam Road. The dam network is a community safety feature.
“Like most coastal communities, we’re at the edge of the earth, therefore we all have stormwater issues. So reimpounding these dams will help us control our stormwater,” Hargrove said. The dam levels will be sequenced so they will be able to control lake levels for future severe weather events.
The dams also provide economic vitality to the town through recreational opportunities such as fishing, boating, jet skiing and water skiing. They serve an environmental purpose by increasing aquatic habitat for waterfowl and alligators.
“You’re going to have more people coming in using the lakes, so there will be an economic impact to the local businesses. They’ll be buying supplies, and gasoline, and everything you need to come out to the lakes,” Hargrove said.
Many residents have a personal financial stake in having the lakes restored, especially on home properties that ring the lake borders.
“Without water in those lakes those property values aren’t as high as they should be because ... they’re not waterfront homes anymore,” Hargrove said. Homeowners could lose equity. The city could lose property tax revenue, with potential impacts on budgeting.
“Our wish would be that no city or county ever suffers economic, environmental, transportation or infrastructure damage,” Treasurer Folwell said.
“But North Carolina is a unique state in many ways, including its geography and weather. Hurricanes and tropical storms can have devastating effects in eastern counties, snowstorms and mudslides can cause damage in western counties and flooding is possible everywhere. When local governments need to rebuild, the Local Government Commission is always ready and willing to do its part to assist,” Treasurer Folwell said.
The LGC’s approval for Boiling Spring Lakes to issue the bonds was required because the commission has a statutory duty to approve most debt issued by units of local government and public authorities in the state. The commission examines whether the amount of money that units borrow is adequate and reasonable for proposed projects and confirms the governmental units can reasonably afford to repay the debt. It also monitors the financial well-being of more than 1,100 local government units.
As part of its statutory due diligence, the LGC tabled a request by Wilkesboro (Wilkes County) to enter into a $162,824 installment purchase arrangement that will allow it to pay back over time for the purchase of a truck, excavator and tractor flail mower. The county seat still has not completed its 2021 audit, and LGC members voted unanimously to wait to approve the financing package until bank reconciliations are current.
In other items on the agenda, the town of Clayton (Johnston County) received approval of $115 million in financing to build an advanced biological water/sewer treatment facility. That will increase treatment capacity by an additional 6 million to 10 million gallons per day. The expansion is necessary to meet the growing residential and industrial needs of the town, and because of the pending expiration of treatment agreements with Johnston County and Raleigh. New pipes and other appurtenances are part of the project. Of the total, $15 million will come from an increase in a state revolving loan (already approved for $95 million), and $100 million from revenue bonds.
LGC members gave a green light to Davie County for just over $34 million from a state revolving loan to expand capacity at the Cooleemee Water Treatment Plant from 2.6 million gallons per day to 3.5 million. The project is necessary to replace the existing plant, which is at the end of its service life.
The city of Mount Holly (Gaston County) will use $8.3 million in installment purchase financing approved by the LGC to repave streets, and for sidewalk and storm water drainage improvements.
The LGC signed off on a request from Rolesville (Wake County) for approval of $4.6 million for an installment purchase to build an 11,840-square-foot public works facility. The building will have office space and a crew room, locker and shower rooms, maintenance areas and five storage bays. The facility is needed to accommodate future expansion.
Moore County plans to extend sewer lines and add two lift stations to serve underserved areas of the town of Vass. That will be done with nearly $4.7 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture revenue bonds approved by the LGC.
- The LGC approved a North Carolina Medical Commission request to obtain $60 million in conduit revenue bonds for Lutheran Retirement Ministries of Alamance County (Twin Lakes Retirement Community) to build a 48-unit apartment building in Burlington. The five-story building will have a chapel, enclosed parking, community building and a connecting structure to dining venues, a fitness center and the main community building.
- The city of Concord (Cabarrus County) was OK’d to seek $34.1 million in conduit revenue bonds. Proceeds will be loaned to STC Coleman Mill, LLC to finance part of the cost to acquire the historic Coleman Mill. It will be renovated and equipped for an affordable, 150-unit, multifamily residential rental facility known as Coleman Mill Lofts.
- LGC members voted to approve a request from the Asheville Housing Authority (Buncombe County) to seek $20 million in conduit revenue bonds that will be loaned to Battery Park Senior Housing Limited Partnership. The money will be used to acquire, rehabilitate and equip a 121-unit, multi-family residential rental facility known as Battery Park Apartments. The units will be affordable, and age restricted to households 62 and older.