Sometimes Guilford County citizens get a chance to vote on which bonds the Guilford County Board of Commissioners approve – like school bonds and jail bonds – and sometimes, like right now, the county can just raise tens of millions of dollars by issuing bonds without even asking for a vote.
While you can’t vote on it, the board is required to hold a public hearing on the matter – so, on Thursday, Feb. 3, people will get a chance to speak on the county’s plan to issue $31.2 million in bonds for repair and construction projects, as well as an additional $4.3 million in bonds for a new sheriff’s headquarters.
In total, the county plans to issue $35.5 million in what are known as “two-thirds” bonds – bonds that don’t get nearly the same amount of attention as the General Obligation bonds that go on the ballot and inspire a countywide debate.
County leaders plan on using the money for a host of projects, according to the resolution set to be adopted as part of the process.
“The Board determines that it is necessary to provide public buildings, improvements, including without limitation, administrative buildings, law enforcement administrative buildings, parking facilities and courthouse facilities and including the acquisition and construction of new public buildings, the improvement and expansion of existing public buildings and the acquisition and installation of furnishings and equipment and the acquisition of interests in real property required therefor, and to pay capital costs of such improvements,” the resolution to be adopted states.
The other bond money – $4.3 million worth – will be used for a new Sheriff’s Department headquarters.
While you don’t get to vote on two-thirds bonds, you do get to pay for them – if you’re a property owner in Guilford County, that is.
“Taxes sufficient to pay the principal of and interest on those bonds when due shall be annually levied and collected,” the resolution notes.
“Two-thirds” bonds get their name from the fact that local governments in North Carolina are able to issue the bonds after a fiscal year in which some debt was paid off. The county or other local government can issue bonds for up to two-thirds of the amount of debt it paid off in the previous year. It’s very much like a person paying off a credit card debt by making minimum payments each month and then turning around each following month and borrowing two-thirds of the money just paid. It’s legal, but it takes a very long time to pay off debt that way.
The interest on the bonds that taxpayers will pay is estimated to come in at just over $11.4 million. That’s based on an estimated interest rate of 1.83 percent.
The resolution notes, “There is no assurance that the assumptions upon which the estimate is based will occur. The occurrence of certain of the assumptions is beyond the control of the County. Differences between the actual circumstances at the time the bonds are issued from the assumptions included in the estimate could result in significant differences between the estimated interest and the actual interest on the bonds.”
The commissioners will hold a virtual public hearing at the board’s meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 3 in the commissioners’ meeting room on the second floor of the Old Guilford County Court House at 301 W. Market St. in Greensboro – though the public input will be virtual.
Those wishing to fill the available virtual speaking slots can register on a first come, first served basis by sending an email to email@example.com no later than Wednesday, Feb. 2 at 3 p.m. Requests should be directed to Guilford County Clerk to the Board of Commissioners Robin Keller,