What are the projects, costs, and timeline?
The City of Wilmington thanks the citizens of Wilmington for overwhelmingly voting for the 2016 Parks Bond. Funding for these projects became available on July 1, 2017 and the city hopes to complete all 15 projects in 5-7 years.
Voters gave the city approval to borrow money to begin $38 million in parks projects. The City of Wilmington will sell $30.4 million in bonds to finance the projects, which total an estimated $38 million. The remaining $7.6 million would come from existing funds.
The bond will be repaid by increasing the City of Wilmington's property tax rate by 2.1¢ per $100 of valuation. This means that the average homeowner of a $200,000 home would pay $42 more per year, or $3.50 each month. The increase became effective as of July 1, 2017.
Why a bond?Residents want more parks. Parks are a high priority for Wilmington residents. In both the most recent citizen survey and the recently completed comprehensive plan, citizens indicated that they want more parks and recreation opportunities.
Our existing parks are highly utilized. Parks and facilities such as the Gary Shell Cross-City Trail, JEL Wade Park, Olsen Park, Archie Blue Park, the Empie Park tennis courts and others are highly used and provide a needed service to residents and visitors. These facilities were all made possible by the 2006 Parks Bond.
A bond provides another way for the city to provide the needed parks. The identified list of needed parks totals more than $60 million. This bond, if approved, will allow the city to meet more than half of those needs in a reasonable amount of time.
How much will it cost?This fall, voters will have the opportunity to decide whether the city can borrow money to begin $38 million in parks projects. The City of Wilmington will need to sell $30.4 million in bonds to finance the identified projects, which total an estimated $38 million. The remaining $7.6 million would come from other planned construction funds.
How do I know the money will be used for these bond projects?The city has a proven track record of using bond funds to pay for projects identified prior to citizens voting during an election. For example, from the 2006 Parks Bond only the natatorium project was not done because non-city partnering agencies were not able to raise their portion of funds for the project. Projects completed in the 2006 Bond included the Althea Gibson Tennis Complex, Olsen Park Softball Complex, expansion to MLK Center and Derick Davis Center, ADA improvements, Cross-City Trail, Alderman Park/Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden, development of Wade Park & Archie Blue Park, Greenfield Amphitheater improvements, the Northside Splash Pad and more.
In addition, more than half of the 38 projects identified in the 2014 Transportation Bond are under design or in initial planning through coordination with other agencies such as the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, NC Department of Transportation and and UNCW. The city expects to have all of these projects completed within 5-7 years.
While the city can adjust funding of projects as needed if circumstances change over time (such as the natatorium) every effort is made to complete identified projects.
What is the impact to my taxes?The 2016 Parks Bond would be repaid by increasing the City of Wilmington's property tax rate by 2.1¢ per $100 of valuation. This means that the average homeowner of a $200,000 home would pay $42 more per year, or $3.50 each month.
How do bonds work?Municipal bonds are debt securities issued by states, cities and counties to fund capital improvement projects such as parks facilities and other projects for the public good. When a government body sells a municipal bond, they are receiving a loan to complete these large projects which must be repaid over time, much like a homeowner pays a mortgage. With less funding coming from the state and federal government, bonds are one of the only remaining methods available to local governments to complete major projects in a growing city.
Financing for projects such as these cannot occur, by state law, until 70% of the projects have been bid. This means that the city spends money upfront on individual projects until 70% of the entire project list has been put out to bid. According to the NC Department of State Treasurer (Division of State and Local Government Finance), Wilmington’s debt issuance is about average for cities with populations over 100,000 (scale of low, average, high).
The only other options to pay for projects such as these would be to pay for the construction projects all at once as they occur, which would mean significant property tax increases to fund all of the projects, or most of the projects would need to be eliminated until complete funding could be secured. Utilizing bonds to fund “long-life” projects ensures that people who use these resources over the next 20 years help pay for the cost of construction, versus the entire burden being placed on our current residents.
Because of the city’s strong financial rating, the city is able to secure financing for construction projects at low interest rates.
How do I register to vote?Visit elections.nhcgov.com to get more information. City residents must be registered by Oct. 14, 2016 to vote in the Nov. 8 election.
How do I get more information?