Should I vote for the Cary Bonds?

We are all being bombarded by political ads.  It’s the season for it, for sure.  But there are a number of other measures on the ballot that also require our attention.  One of those, is the Cary Bond referendum.  (I should probably say “referendums” since there are 3 on the ballot.)

Why the bond?

My job on the Town Council is to serve you, our citizens.  This is a task of which I am immensely honored and privileged.  And part of that task is to ensure that you have the services you need to work, live, play, learn and grow in the community that you call home.

During the economic downturn, the Town’s general fund revenues declined, and in 2008, Town Council made some tough decisions to do what we all did at home; re-prioritize our capital projects, canceling $24 million in projects, reallocating resources, and delaying many other projects.

We are now at a point that some of those projects need to be reconsidered if we are to continue to support the high quality of life that Cary citizens have come to expect.  And, sometimes, just like in our own lives, we need additional capital to enhance our community.  Whether it’s maintenance or new coat of paint on the house, updating a room, or improving our backyard, these projects cost money.  The same thing is true in our town.

  1. We have a need to update Fire Station #2, it’s overcrowded, outdated, and has significant structural repair needs, and is serving a large area.
  2. Maintenance on our roads has been pushed out during the economic slowdown, many streets need resurfacing and improvements. Other projects such as the Walnut Street projects and the Downtown streetscape will enhance the community, while other improvements for intersections in West Cary (Carpenter Firestation and Morrisville Carpenter, as well as Green Level West) will help those areas.
  3. Parks and Recreation have become a big part of Cary’s identity.  A Downtown Park, Carpenter Park, updates to Mills Park and Bartley Park (Penney Road Park) will provide additional amenities across the town.
Just the Facts, Ma’am

In order to pay for these initiatives, we need to come to you, Cary Citizens, to ask you for your approval. There are 3 ballot questions put before you – totally $80 million. If all 3 are approved, our tax rate will increase from the lowest in Wake County (at $0.33) to $.0.37 (with 2 cents in 2013 and 2 cents in 2015.)

If approved, Cary would still have the lowest property tax rate of any municipality in Wake County.

As part of the initiative to educate our citizens about the Bond, the Town of Cary has created several tools to provide you the information you need to make a decision.

A Cary Bonds Website: with the list and details about the projects included in the Bond referendum, the financial impact, and information on what is on your ballot.

A Video: An overview of the bonds with with information about the bond and the Town’s current status. (Click HERE to see the video.)

FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions – found on the Cary Bonds Website, with more financial information for your use.

How Much?

That’s really the question we all want to know.  If I vote for it, how much is it gonna cost me?

If all 3 bonds are approved, the property tax rate will increase 2 cents in 2013, and 2 cents again, in 2015.

That means that if you have a home that is worth $250,000, your property tax bill will increase $50/year for the increase in July 2013, and $50/year for the increase in 2015.

Just so you know, Cary has not raised property tax rates since 1989.

If I vote against it, what will happen?

The Town does not currently have the funds for these proposed projects.  So, if you decide to vote against it, it is highly unlikely that any of these projects will move forward in the next 3 to 5 years.

This is a vote on whether the Town can use a general obligation bond for financing these projects, it’s not a vote on the property tax rate, although it impacts that rate.

Why the Blog Post?

I’ve received a number of emails and FaceBook posts regarding this issue, so I wanted to address some of the comments publicly.  Please feel free to contact me with any comments, questions or concerns.  This is YOUR decision.  Be informed and tell us what you want.  You choose.

Featured photo from CaryBond.org website

One Response to Should I vote for the Cary Bonds?
  1. Lori Bush Reply

    I received the following question on my FB page this weekend, in response to a Letter to the Editor in the #Cary News. Thought I would share it with you all. (Removing the original writer’s name)
    ——————————
    Lori, I just read Ray Czarnwcki’s letter to the editor in today’s Cary news. Are his 3 points accurate?

    Does Cary really have $53M in unspent in allocated funds available for the same purpose?

    Was $80M selected because that was believed to be the most tax increase we would tolerate?

    Is it true not getting the bonds would have little if any impact on the future of Cary?

    He claims all of his information came from a staff report.

    Please help us make an informed decision. Thanks.
    ——————————–
    Hi – thanks for writing.

    Mr. Czarnecki is a passionate citizen – well intentioned, but I feel, jumping to conclusions that are inaccurate.

    1. I would have to research this number – I believe he may be referring to the authority that was this part of the 2003 Bond, where voters approved $130 million of transportation bond authority and $30 million of park, recreation, and cultural resources (PRCR) bond authority. (We chose not to use that authority, as that bond was originally passed without a firm statement that there would be a tax increase associated with it. ) Or perhaps he is speaking to another number, I’m not sure. Rest assured, if we had the funds for these projects available, we would prefer to use money we have, rather than have to borrow and pay debt service on new monies.

    2. No, $80M was not chosen for that reason. If that were our only reason for choosing a number, I believe that Council would have chosen 1 or 2 cents, as the Biennial survey said that 76% of respondents would support a penny, and 56% would support 2 cents. Instead, Council looked at the list of projects, their costs, and prioritized them – coming up with the list you see in the Bond. A mixture of transportation, fire/public safety, and Parks/Rec = $80M. The cost to the taxpayer is $80/year in taxes on a $200,000 home. ($12/month) total in 2015.

    3. Again, I respectfully disagree with Mr. Czarnecki. Included in the bonds are a number of very important projects that will NOT move forward without the money. It is up to the citizens if those items are worth the tax increase. You can see the project listings at: http://www.carybonds.org to make that determination for yourself. Included in the bonds are road improvements (maintenance on our roads was pushed out during the economic downturn) and intersection improvements, Sidewalks, and a new Fire Station, Parks (Carpenter Park, a Downtown Park, extension of greenways, etc.) and more. These projects will not occur with out the funding from our citizens. My personal belief is that what makes Cary great, besides its people, are the wonderful amenities that we have for our citizens (parks, greenways (rated as one of the most important to citizens in survey after survey), community centers, arts, etc.) … it is what has continued to place us as one of the “Best places to live.” Again, my belief is that we need to continue to invest in our community, especially in areas that are not served as well,today (such as new areas towards west Cary).

    You are welcome to look at the staff report yourself. All of the information that Council receives is available online. http://www.townofcary.org/Town_Council/Agendas___Minutes/Staff_Reports/AD12-015.htm

    I hope that answers your question, and I would be happy to talk more about it, if you would like. All the best to you.

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