The town of Holly Springs has plans for an ambitious expansion of its parks and recreation offerings, and the Local Government Commission (LGC) gave them a boost by approving $100 million in general obligation bonds to pay for the work.
The population of the Wake County town has more than doubled, from 24,661 in 2010 to an estimated 49,417 in 2024. To keep pace with sufficient leisure amenities, the town held a public referendum in November 2023. Voters approved the funding with 63.37% of the vote. Public approval is necessary for a local government entity to issue general obligation bonds.
The town plans to use bond proceeds to build the 56-acre Cass Holt Road Park, which may include a splash pad, athletic fields and courts, a skate park, picnic shelters, playground, trails and a 93,000-square-foot indoor recreation center. Womble Park is a proposed facility with outdoor courts and baseball dugout replacement, and Sugg Farm could include an event pavilion and additional greenway connections.
The LGC approved financing Tuesday, Jan. 9, for multiple public projects on the meeting agenda that totaled nearly $320 million in financing. Population and customer growth were cited for several of the projects.
The LGC is chaired by State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, and staffed by the Department of State Treasurer (DST). It 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.
Fuquay-Varina (Wake County) received LGC approval for $85 million in revenue bonds for expansion of the Northern Harnett Wastewater Treatment Plant and enlargement of collection capacity of the Southern Oaks Gravity Sewer. Significant customer growth and projections for continued growth are behind the efforts.
The Northern Harnett work partners with the towns of Lillington and Angier. The treatment plant capacity will increase from7.5 million gallons daily to 16.5 million gallons per day. Fuquay-Varina owns 2.6 million gallons per day of that total, and will increase to 6 million gallons daily. The Southern Oaks project will expand the collections system, while decommissioning the Highway 42 and Southern Oaks pump stations.
LGC members gave a green light to Huntersville (Mecklenburg County) to issue $58 million in general obligation bonds to pay for the costs of designing, building, reconstructing and enlarging streets and non-motorized paths. Proceeds may pay to expand the town recreation center, renovate and expand existing parks and recreation facilities and athletic fields including the Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatic facility. The need to serve a growing population was cited. Huntersville has increased from 47,120 residents in 2010 to an estimated 62,640 today.
A tax increase of 3.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value is anticipated for the transportation improvements, with a tax hike of six-tenths of a cent for parks and recreation projects. Voters approved the bonds for transportation by 77.6%,and the recreation referendum by 74.7%.
Beech Mountain (Avery and Watauga counties) received the OK to issue $15 million in general obligation bonds. The town plans to us proceeds to pay the capital costs of improving the town’s water system, including building a reservoir and a pumping station as a secondary source of water. Aging, leaking water and sewer lines will be replaced. A tax increase of 11 cents per $1,000 of assessed property is planned to pay for the work. The referendum was passed by 84.7% of voters in November 2023.
Wendell (Wake County) received LGC approval to issue $50 million in general obligation bonds. Proceeds are intended to fund a new park, greenway and recreational facilities, and to acquire land and equipment. Some of the money would pay for improvement work to streets, sidewalks, bridges and overpasses, parking and bicycle facilities, among other work. A tax increase of about 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed property is anticipated. The parks and recreation referendum was approved by 68.07% of voters in November 2023. The transportation referendum passed with a 72.69% favorable vote.
North Topsail Beach (Onslow County) will demolish an existing fire station and replace it with a building with four bays to house vehicles and equipment, station operations and staff quarters. LGC members approved a $5.6 million installment purchase for the town to perform the work. An installment purchase allows a borrower to pay the money back over time instead of in one lump sum. No tax increase is anticipated.
The LGC signed off on a nearly $4.9 million increase in a State Revolving Fund Loan to allow Waynesville (Haywood County) to make improvements to an aging wastewater treatment plant that has been cited for violations of effluent pollution concentration standards. No tax increase is planned.
The LGC also gave its blessing to a $214,122 installment purchase planned by Liberty (Randolph County). The town will enter into a lease-to-purchase agreement for public safety radios for the fire and police departments. Current radios will not be compatible with its communications system beginning in 2025.
In other business, Mecklenburg County and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools representatives presented LGC members a detailed look at plans for $2.5 billion in general obligation bonds the county wants to issue to support school projects. It was an information-only presentation and no action was taken. The matter will be on the February meeting agenda for a vote on what would be the largest amount of tax-exempt financing ever handled by the LGC.
Mecklenburg County voters approved the associated bond referendum on Nov. 7. According to the school district web site, “30 high-priority projects” will be funded. The work mostly is designed to replace and renovate aging structures. Plans include new school buildings, upgrades to others and expansion of academic opportunities.