Cary News

Morrisville residents willing to spend for better roads, parks

Residents have told the Morrisville Town Council repeatedly they want better roads and recreation facilities. The most recent data now shows they are willing to pay for it too.

Thirty six percent of respondents said they would be willing to support a $20 million bond, another 37 percent said they would be willing to support a 2012 bond referendum with “no limit to spending,” according to the survey completed by 101 people. Thirteen percent of the survey participants said they would support a $10 million bond and 5 percent said $15 million.

Only 9 percent said they wanted to see no spending.

“I think we need to be careful,” said Councilman Mark Stohlman, about the survey results. “People think this $20 million (bond) will cost a penny and a half. Honestly (we)don’t know how much it will cost them.”

Councilman Steve Diehl said he didn’t believe there was any confusion when the public responded to the survey.

“Give people some credit,” Diehl said. “They are going to make the choice when they vote. I don’t think anyone is going to be fooled. Town has an obligation to show it’s going to be “X” percent tax increase. It’s up to us to make sure the costs are fully explained before they go to vote.”

Town spokeswoman Stephanie Smith said the survey gave people a chance to voice opposition to spending.

“One thing we were mindful of was to give people the opportunity to voice if they wanted nothing or everything,” she said. “We heard people say, ‘we are willing to pay for what (we) want.’ ”

Town staff has not yet developed a final draft of the bond package or the projected tax rate. If the council moves forward on all six projects in the capital improvement plan, including a main street recreation and senior center; open space acquisition, the bond could total around $38 million.

If all projects make the November ballot and are approved by voters, the tax rate would not be affected until 2014. The tax rate dedicated to fund these projects would fluctuate between 7.67 cents at its peak in 2020 to .81 cents in 2039.

On June 12, staff will present a debt affordability analysis and on June 26 the council is set to choose the projects. The council will vote to adopt a resolution. The public will get a chance to comment again before the vote. A date for the hearing has not yet been released.

A clear message

Diehl said the public’s response to the survey sent a clear message to the council.

“I get two things out of it, it was overwhelming in favor of doing (a bond),” Diehl said. “ Second, it seemed two issues that people supported was NC. 54 to Evans Road and expansion of the aquatics center.”

Diehl said a $20 million bond would likely cover the renovations to the aquatics center, N.C. 54 improvements and maybe a third project, such as a new public works facility.

The McCrimmon Parkway extension, from N.C. 54 to Evans Road, is estimated to cost between $7.2 million to $9.9 million. The aquatics center renovations would cost about $2.5 million, and the public works facility improvements would cost between $6.9 million and $7.7 million.

Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed RTP Park as part of the 2012 bond referendum. The park is part of a separate project.