The city’s property tax rate would increase by roughly 1 cent, costing the average Raleigh homeowner an extra $19 a year, under a transportation spending package city leaders are considering.
City Council members said earlier this year they might put a bond referendum on the ballot in October to fund transportation projects. On Wednesday, they seemed to favor a package that would raise about $200 million.
Mayor Pro Tem Kay Crowder, referencing a recent survey, said traffic is residents’ top concern, and council members feel obligated to address it.
“Is that the right number?” Crowder asked of an early plan for $200 million. “We don’t know yet.”
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But the money would give the city flexibility in considering major road projects, including widening streets, connecting neighborhoods, installing bus stops and building sidewalks, Crowders aid.
City leaders plan to address six holdover projects from the 2013 bond, which raised $75 million. Raleigh needs at least $83 million to complete projects on Old Wake Forest, Tryon, Rock Quarry, Poole, Blue Ridge and Six Forks roads.
City planners and council members are expected to meet in the coming weeks to figure out which roads should get the most attention if voters approve the bond. They could pick roads that have been deemed the worst by experts, those that draw the most complaints from drivers or a combination of both.
Council members on Wednesday wanted to reach an agreement on how much money the city could afford to borrow and how much of a tax increase Raleigh residents can stomach.
“It’s a balancing act,” Crowder said.
The council’s move to raise taxes and utility fees last year cost the average homeowner an extra $95.
In bond discussions Wednesday, city staff presented the council with options to raise $120 million with no property tax increase, $150 million with a 0.38-cent tax increase, $200 million with a 1-cent tax increase or $250 million with a 1.62-cent increase.
Council members agreed on $200 million as a starting point but said they’d be willing to ask for more.
Council members Bonner Gaylord and Mary-Ann Baldwin said they want to make sure the city funds the West Street extension project, an estimated $12.5 million project near the planned Union Station transit hub downtown.
Councilman David Cox said he wants to include a road project on Wake Forest Road north of the Interstate 440 Beltline to accommodate growth.
“I really think in a transportation bond that we need to consider that section of road for improvements,” Cox said, adding that he’s open to a $250 million bond. “I hear a lot of complaints about our roads.”