A draft of a parks and recreation master plan calls for building an aquatics facility downtown and creating greenways and trails to better connect Wake Forest’s amenities.
But those projects would come at a price, and consultants say residents could see a property tax hike if town leaders move forward with the plans.
The Wake Forest Board of Commissioners would have to approve a tax increase before it goes into effect.
Some municipalities raise property taxes to provide a permanent revenue source for parks and recreation departments, said Art Thatcher of GreenPlay, a consulting firm hired by the town.
In November, Wake Forest voters approved a $25 million bond issue for parks and rec improvements.
The bond could bring a tax hike. Currently, the property tax rate in Wake Forest is 51 cents per $100 valuation. Residents could see a 2-cent increase, but a staggered time line for the projects and continued revenue growth could eliminate the need for the increase.
“The community appears willing to increase tax increment levels to pay for the improvements,” GreenPlay wrote in the draft plan.
Thatcher said the town could have other options to complete projects from the parks master plan besides raising taxes. For example, it could seek out grants.
A downtown boost?
The draft plan suggests a 65,000-square-foot recreation center downtown that would include a competitive pool, indoor track, community space and several gyms. It could cost about $25 million.
Thatcher said the center would fulfill a need for residents, and also help larger economic development efforts.
“It’d be a great catalyst for downtown redevelopment,” he said.
The town has a head start on some of the recommendations, like connecting facilities with trails and greenway improvements.
Bond money will also take care of some of GreenPlay’s recommendations, like maintaining and upgrading current facilities to keep pace with demand.
GreenPlay will next create a final draft plan, with input from residents. It is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
Wake Forest’s parks and rec plan, which serves as a guide for recreation services, is updated every 10 years.