The Raleigh City Council will hold a public hearing on Tuesday over how to finance the $52 million purchase of the former Dorothea Dix Hospital campus for a city park.
The council decided earlier this month to take out a 10-year bank loan, over two other options that involve issuing bonds. One of those bond options would require approval by city residents on the ballot this fall.
The council agreed with city staff that the bank loan makes the most sense because it would allow the city to complete the purchase this summer and likely would be the cheapest option because of historically low interest rates.
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at 222 W. Hargett St.
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Support for schools budget
WakeUP Wake County wants people to lobby the Wake County Board of Commissioners to fully fund the school system’s requested $48.3 million increase in local funding.
In an email to supporters this week, WakeUP Wake Executive Director Karen Rindge says County Manager Jim Hartmann’s proposal to increase school funding by $34.6 million does not fully fund the district’s needs. She urges people to speak for the school system’s budget request at Monday’s two public budget hearings or through letters to the editor.
“WakeUP believes that our County Commission needs to fund this entire budget request to keep our public schools top-quality,” Rindge writes. “Let’s ask our leaders to take the financial steps to protect our quality of life, and keep our county one of the best places to live!”
Rindge’s email contains several talking points that people can use, including how the majority of the funding increase would go to school employee pay raises. She also says that Wake’s property taxes are low compared with surrounding counties and that fully funding the school board’s request would cost the average homeowner $27 more per year than Hartmann’s proposed tax increase.
The first Monday hearing will be at 2 p.m. in the commission’s meeting room in the Wake County Justice Center, 300 S. Salisbury St. in Raleigh. The second hearing is at 7 p.m. in the Wake County Commons Building, 4011 Carya Drive in Raleigh.
What the council wants
In the middle of an intense discussion about next year’s budget, Apex officials found a moment of levity in the form of a far-fetched idea.
Town leaders were hashing out a proposal to drop the town’s fund balance reserves from 30 percent to 20 percent to increase revenues. Mayor Pro Tem Gene Schulze suggested that a rule be set to use the fund balance only for emergencies.
But councilman Scott Lassiter said it wouldn’t really matter if the fund balance was called an emergency fund, since money is spent on what the majority of the board approves.
“You can call it what you want,” Lassiter said. “But if three members of the council want to spend that on, say, a statue of (Town Manager) Bruce Radford, they’re going to do that.”
Radford laughed and promised he had not included a statue of himself in this year’s budget. But the council is debating the budget again Tuesday night, giving Radford a few more days to consider the statue idea.
Compiled by Richard Stradling, T. Keung Hui and Andrew Kenney.
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