Apex weighs future spending options
03/14/2014 3:37 PM
02/15/2015 10:42 AM
The town will need to spend more than $50 million over the next seven years on parks and road projects. To cover the costs, town leaders are considering a bond issue.
Apex staff also suggested the idea of creating a stormwater fee paid by businesses and residents. But Town Council members seemed to prefer a bond during their recent annual planning retreat. They said they want more information from staff before making a decision.
A fee could generate about $800,000 a year for Apex, freeing up general-fund money to be spent on other things, said Public Works Director Tim Donnelly.
Council members said the fee would burden businesses and that they were reluctant to create a new fee or raise property taxes.
“We have to live within our means,” said Councilman Gene Schulze. “It’s a matter of discipline. This is a matter of adjusting our priorities.”
Apex has a good bond rating and could borrow up to $10 million without raising property taxes, said Finance Director Lee Smiley.
A town policy prohibits bond payments from exceeding 12 percent of the annual budget. Currently, the payments make up about 8 percent, Smiley said.
It’s unclear if the town will move forward with putting a bond issue on the fall ballot.
“The discussion at (the) retreat was basically to gauge Council interest, and there hasn’t been any further discussion since then,” town spokeswoman Stacie Galloway wrote in an email. “It was mainly just an idea that came up during staff retreat about how to pay for some of the larger ticket items that have been identified as priorities.”
The town hopes to find money for several projects over the next seven years:• 50-acre park on the northwest side of town;
• 50-acre park on the southwest side of town;
• $5 million to build a stretch of the Apex Peakway from N.C. 55 to Schieffelin Road;
• and about $18 million for an inside loop on the Apex Peakway.
Previous bond support
Apex voters overwhelmingly supported the last three bond issues in town.
In 2005, about 88 percent of voters said “yes” to spending $35 million on a regional wastewater facility. The Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility is currently under construction and will open up more capacity for towns such as Apex and Cary.
More than 80 percent of voters approved $13 million in spending for parks and new roads in 2004. Apex used the money to expand the community center, to build the Beaver Creek Greenway and to renovate The Halle Cultural Arts Center.
The 160-acre Apex Nature Park, which is set to open March 29, was also part of the 2004 bond issue. The Town Council approved a 5-cent property tax hike in 2012 with 1 cent dedicated to help pay bond debt for the park.
The town also completed 2.2 miles of the two-lane outer loop of Apex Peakway, 1.1 miles of sidewalk extensions and upgrades to two major intersections.
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