Town leaders have started considering greenway and sidewalk projects that could take shape over the next several years, but so far the topic has been mostly food for thought.
The amenities were among various topics discussed at the Rose Hill Conference Center during the Zebulon commissioners’ March 3-4 retreat, the annual lead-in to budget making season.
In addition to exploring a mock timeline for six projects – and the scope of work and costs associated with each – board members were asked to begin thinking about the different funding opportunities that exist.
They were shown a breakdown of how a 2-cent tax increase spanning five years, generating $170,000 in annual revenue, would help progress the six projects through 2021. Mayor Bob Matheny said that was merely an example used to help the board gauge what it would take to complete a certain volume of work.
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While the tax increase was theoretical for their conversation, one is still possible to help fund greenways and sidewalks and other capital projects on the town’s radar.
“No options are off the table,” Matheny said in an interview. “If we want to accomplish these things, we have to look at options, and (a tax increase) is one of the possibilities. We could also turn to fund balance reserves, bonds, grants, all sorts of things, and we wouldn’t slam the door on any of them.”
Only scenarios, for now
All options will be weighed more at upcoming meetings and work sessions as the budget process moves forward. The town, by law, must adopt its 2016-17 budget by the end of June, since that new budget year begins July 1.
Matheny emphasized the tax increase scenario was not limited to the greenway and sidewalk portion of the retreat. It was also applied in discussions of other major capital improvement needs, including street resurfacing and fleet management.
“This isn’t what we’re proposing. These are the scenarios and we haven’t been through the scenarios,” Matheny said. “What I don’t want is for people to say, ‘Oh, they’re going to raise the taxes.’ Maybe, but we don’t know that yet.”
At this point, the town has yet to decide which greenway and sidewalk projects it wants to take on first.
Factors to consider
The six projects included in the presentation to commissioners were used to illustrate how the range of projects varies – from one-year to multi-year and multi-phase classifications – although some of them have been noted before to be priority projects.
“Clearly, it is up to the board if the projects included in that chart are the ones they wanted to do,” said Zebulon Public Works Director Chris Ray. “We wanted to show them the different types of projects and see what types of projects they wanted to do, or if they want to do a combination of some types of those projects. We were just trying to show the different challenges between the different projects.”
Those labeled as one-year ventures in the chart of examples are the second phase of the Shepard School Road sidewalk project (estimated cost of $160,000); and sidewalk projects on East Stronach Avenue and North Whitley Street ($230,000); and Privette Street ($370,000).
The multi-year projects include a nature trail along Little Creek ($57,000) and a segment of the Beaverdam Creek Greenway ($1,075,000) from the Taryn Meadows to Weaver’s Pond subdivisons.
A greenway connecting the Zebulon Community Library to Zebulon Elementary and the Zebulon Boys & Girls club was listed as an example of a multi-phase project. But none are on the town’s official to-do list until the board of commissioners takes action this spring.
“You’ve got to start thinking about it and take the information and at some point decide, this is the layout of the menu,” Matheny said. “The next step is to decide what we do, when we do it and how we do it.”