Garner approves $35.7 million in bonds to reshape town

kjahner@newsobserver.comMarch 12, 2013 

Thirteen years after its last bond vote, Garner voters said yes to four bond issues totaling $35.7 million.

The largest bond package in the town’s history, the money will be used to build new town facilities, improve streets and sidewalks, construct new recreation facilities and town redevelopment.

Residents approved the bonds by a wide margin. According to unofficial results from the Wake County Board of Elections, each measure won at least 66.5 percent.

“Today will go down in the history books,” Mayor Ronnie Williams said to a group of elected officials, town staff and other leaders gathered at town hall to see the results of the vote. “It will reshape Garner, and I think we’ll like what we see when it is re-shaped.”

About 74 percent of the roughly 1,600 voters supported a $12 million bond issue for new town hall and police facilities. A $14.57 million bond issue for streets and sidewalks won 73.3 percent of the vote, while 70.2 percent supported a $7.15 million bond issue for parks and recreation bond. A $2 million bond issue for redevelopment won 66.5 percent of the vote, the slimmest margin.

Williams thanked the Garner Chamber of Commerce for its support and campaigning as well as the Garner Revitalization Association, which developed plans for downtown Garner. But his biggest thanks went to the voters.

“It’s their money, and they gave us the authority to borrow and pay it back,” he said.

Consultants and the town said that with 2.5 percent revenue growth – slower than the growth from the last decade – the town could need a 2.75 cent-per-$100 increase on the 49-cent property tax no earlier than 2015. That amounts to about $45 per year to the median home in Garner, which is valued at $163,400.

“I’m so excited. Throughout the campaign I encountered questions, but I didn’t encounter opposition,” Councilwoman Kathy Behringer said.

Town leaders will meet in retreat Thursday and Friday to discuss timelines and priority for various projects.

The biggest question heading into the vote had been the emphasis on downtown. The parks and recreation bond will fund half of a $7.8 million recreation center downtown, among other projects, and much of the streets and sidewalks bond also focuses on that area.

Jahner: 919-829-4822

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