At the July 5 meeting, Asheville City Council took steps toward a potential $74 million bond package by passing three related resolutions:
- Resolution of the City Council of the City of Asheville, North Carolina, Directing the Publication of Notice of Intention to Apply to the Local Government Commission for Approval of Bonds.
- Resolution of the City Council of the City of Asheville, North Carolina, Authorizing the Chief Financial Officer to Apply to the Local Government Commission for Approval of the City’s Proposed General Obligation Bond Financings and to Submit Such Application to the Local Government Commission.
- Resolution of the City Council of the City of Asheville, North Carolina, Making Certain Statements of Fact Concerning Proposed Bond Issue.
Here is the staff report from Chief Financial Officer Barbara Whitehorn and City Manager Gary Jackson and the verbiage for the resolutions: General Obligation Bond Referendum staff report and resolutions.
In two work sessions, Asheville City Council members have explored the idea of a possible bond referendum to fund needs above and beyond the scope of the annual operating budget. At its June 28 work session, City Council heard presentations from staff which included potential projects for a possible bond package. By the end of the meeting, the conversation focused on a bond package that would not exceed $74 million and focused on three focus areas: Transportation Networks, Parks and Recreation Facility Improvements, Affordable Housing.
Transportation networks: At a maximum of $32 million, proposed projects would significantly improve the transportation network to include streets, sidewalks, bike lanes, greenways and bus shelters.
Parks and recreation facility improvements: At a maximum of $17 million, proposed projects would make major improvements to passive and active recreational facilities across the city.
Affordable housing: At a maximum of $25 million, proposed programs would support affordable housing within the city limits.
Here are the draft proposals:
How bonds work
There are three ways to finance the construction of major capital projects — use current revenues, capital reserve funds (setting aside money over time), and the issuance of bonds (borrowing money to be paid back in the future). Bond financing is often used for major capital projects that are above and beyond the scope of the annual operating budget.
For Asheville to have a bond referendum on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, Council must first apply to the NC Local Government Commission, a financial oversight division of the NC Department of the Treasury. The commission assists local North Carolina governments in decision making involving large financing projects such as bond issues. It is chaired by the North Carolina State Treasurer.
Bonds have to be put on ballots by category with voters deciding on them separately by category.
During the next two weeks, the community will be polled for project preferences to help inform City Council’s decisions. The City retained a research firm to gauge community opinion on bond priorities.
At its July 5 meeting, Council is scheduled to formally introduce bond categories, and the maximum amount of debt to be considered in the three categories. If Council decides to go forward with a bond proposal, a bond order would be introduced at the July 26 formal City Council meeting and a public hearing would be scheduled for the August 9 regular meeting. The NC Local Government Commission could then approve Council’s application to put a bond referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot.