A 3-cent property tax increase was projected by Greensboro city staff for 2023 during the 2021 bond presentation at the Greensboro City Council hybrid work session on Tuesday, May 4.
According to the report, a 1.5 cent increase would be for the 2016 bonds and a 1.5 cent increase for the 2021 bonds and that would increase the Greensboro property tax rate to 69.25 cents
For the 2019-2020 fiscal year, property taxes were raised 3 cents and in the 2017-2018 fiscal year there was a stealth property tax increase. That was a property reevaluation year and the City Council did not lower the property tax rate to the revenue neutral rate, which equaled about a 2.11 cent property tax rate increase.
Putting some kind of bond referendum on the ballot this fall has been mentioned several times by Mayor Nancy Vaughan, but this is the first discussion of actual needs and numbers by the City Council.
It’s late in the game to be planning a bond referendum. The bond application will have to go to the Local Government Commission in June in order to be placed on the ballot for the Nov. 2 election.
The city staff with little or no direction from the City Council suggested the $120 million bond be divided up with $30 million for housing, $70 million for community services and parks and recreation and $20 million for public safety.
Of the $70 million for community services and parks and recreation, $50 million is for the Windsor-Chavis-Nocho joint use facility. This is a project to combine the Windsor Recreation Center and the Vance Chavis branch library into one facility. The cost of the project is estimated to be $60 million, but there was no discussion of where the additional $10 million in funding would be acquired.
The $20 million for public safety breaks down to $17 million to renovate or replace four fire stations and $3 million to finish the fourth floor of police headquarters.
Councilmember Sharon Hightower asked if the bond couldn’t be larger and City Manager David Parrish explained the staff was attempting to keep the property tax increase for the 2021 bond down to 1.5 cents. Parrish said that a couple of million might be added without raising the tax increase but not much more.
Councilmember Marikay Abuzauiter noted that of the $120 million bond, not one penny was for streets and transportation despite the fact that the staff report listed $135 million in transportation needs. She added that the transportation money spent for street improvement and repair as well as for the bus system was done primarily with federal money. The federal transportation grants cover 80 percent of the cost but require a 20 percent match from the city. Abuzuaiter said she would hate to see the city have to turn down federal money because the city couldn’t afford the 20 percent match.
Councilmember Justin Outling repeatedly asked how the city staff determined what the items made it on the proposed list of projects and how staff determined what “was a need versus what was a want” from the departments.
Outling also noted that all the bond referendum did was give the city authorization to borrow money and it was up to the City Council to determine if the projects were worthy of the city taking on more debt.
Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann said, “Sometimes I think we are constantly building and that’s good but we don’t take care of we’ve got. We’ve got so much maintenance that needs to be done to assets in this city.”
Councilmember Yvonne Johnson said, “With Memorial Stadium that’s exactly what happened. We didn’t take care of it and we didn’t take care of it.”