Last week the Greensboro City Council passed the largest tax increase in the history of Greensboro, but the City Council wants more money to spend.
Although they have received little attention, the City Council has placed five bonds totaling $135 million on the ballot for the Tuesday, July 26 election.
Each of the five bonds are listed separately and voters will be able to vote “yes” or “no” on each individual bond.
While the $135 million in bonds pales in comparison to the $1.7 billion school bond passed by Guilford County voters in the May 17 primary, the amount is enough to add significantly to the budget. The City Council was told that $12 million in the $689 million 2022-2023 budget was to cover the cost of bond payments on the $135 million bond package.
Both Mayor Nancy Vaughan and District 3 Councilmember and mayoral candidate Justin Outling, who both also voted against the budget, said that allocating $12 million for bonds that had not passed seemed unnecessary. Outling noted that passage of the bonds was not the same as borrowing and spending the bond money on projects.
The advertising and promotion of government bonds is usually misleading because the proponents talk about particular projects that will be paid for with the money from the bonds. However, the City Council is only required to spend the bond money consistent with the language on the ballot, which is extremely general.
The five bonds on the ballot are $30 million in housing bonds, $70 million in parks and recreation bonds, $14 million in firefighting facilities bonds, $6 million in law enforcement facilities bonds and $15 million in transportation bonds.
The City Council has stated that it intends to spend $50 million of the $70 million in parks and recreation bonds on combining the Vance Chavis branch library and the Windsor Recreation Center into one facility. The estimated cost of that project when the City Council voted to put the bonds on the ballot in June 2021 was $70 million. Considering how construction costs have risen in the past year, it is unlikely the city will be able to build the facility as planned for that amount and the City Council is under no obligation to spend $50 million on that project. The City Council could vote to spend all $70 million on that one project or not spend any of the $70 million on the Vance Chavis-Windsor project at all.