Mayor Nancy Vaughan announced that the Greensboro City Council would be considering placing a bond referendum on the ballot for the November 2021 election.

The voters of Greensboro passed four bonds totaling $126 million in 2016 and the majority of that money has not been spent.

A housing bond to facilitate the building of more affordable housing in Greensboro is one of the bonds that the City Council is reportedly considering putting on the ballot, along with a bond for public safety.

In 2016, the voters passed a $25 million housing bond. City Councilmember Sharon Hightower has frequently complained since then that $25 million wasn’t enough, but in fact, of that $25 million, as of Nov. 30, only $10.5 million had been spent; an additional $500,000 has been encumbered, which means contracts have been signed to spend the money but the $500,000 hasn’t been paid out yet.

That leaves the city with over $14 million in bond money available for affordable housing. So the city has been spending the affordable housing money at a rate of about $2.6 million a year. If that spending rate continues, the city won’t run out of housing bond money for over five years, which might make some question why a housing bond is necessary in 2021.

In fact, the city as of Nov. 30 had only spent 43 percent of the 2016 bond money and encumbered an additional 3 percent, which means over half, 54 percent, is still available in 2020.

The City Council often talks about economic development as being a top priority, and in 2016 the voters passed $38.5 million in Community and Economic Development bonds. Of that $38.5 million, in the past four years the city has spent $4.5 million and encumbered $1.5 million, which leaves $32.5 million available.

The Community and Economic Development bonds includes $25 million for “Downtown Streetscapes and Enhancement.” Of that, $2.8 million has been spent and $1.2 encumbered, which means $21 million is still available to enhance the downtown.

Parks and Recreation is much more in line with what would be expected. Of the $36 million Parks and Recreation Bond, $24.3 million has been spent and $1.9 encumbered, so about $9.7 is currently available.

Of the $28 million transportation bond, $15.3 million has been spent and $12.7 million remains. The amount encumbered is $141.