Voters in this town will decide whether to spend $25 million to fund streets, parks and recreation and greenway projects.
Supporters of a bond issue say the measure would help shape the next phase of growth in Wake Forest. If voters approve the bonds Tuesday, it could pay for big-ticket items such as a community center at Joyner Park, the widening of Ligon Mill Road and construction of the Smith and Sanford Creek greenway.
Wake Forest voters will be asked three separate questions on the referendum ballot: Do they support $6.3 million for streets and sidewalks, $14.2 million for parks and recreation and $4.6 million for greenways?
If voters approve all three, Wake Forest expects to leverage an additional $30 million worth of matching grant funds, for a total of $55 million in new or improved roads, trails and amenities.
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State law forbids municipalities from using public money to take a position on a referendum, requiring elected officials and town staff to make sure their public information campaign doesn’t stray into advocacy.
But other groups, such as town advisory boards and private organizations, are free to throw their weight behind the bond issue. And they are, saying the projects are critical to Wake Forest’s further development as a destination for businesses and families.
“For economic development purposes, for the growth of the community, we felt like it was a time and a place for us to lend support,” said Marla Akridge, president of the Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce.
Akridge said that companies look at the quality of life for their employees in an area, especially when it comes to roads and recreation opportunities, when they’re evaluating whether to relocate or start a business.
Groups such as the Greenway Advisory Board and the Recreation Advisory Board also are supporting the bond issue.
Town officials have said they expect to stagger the projects and the bond debt over several years, possibly heading off any tax increase because of revenue growth during that time. In the worst-case scenario, they say issuing the bonds would require an increase of 2 cents in the town’s property tax rate, currently 51 cents per $100 valuation.