Bonds on the Ballot

In Buzz, September 2022 by Raleigh Magazine6 Comments

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Breaking down the three bonds: what they are, what they will do and what they will cost

This year, when you go to the polls, you’ll find three bonds on the ballot—the most ever Raleighites have been asked to vote on at one time. What’s at stake? The future of parks (Raleigh Parks Bond Referendum), the future of schools (Wake County Public School Bond) and the expansion of Wake Tech Community College (Wake Tech Workforce Forward Bond). Worth noting, Raleigh voters haven’t voted down a bond in over 20 years. 

Not all citizens realize that bonds aren’t about just shifting city money from pot A to pot B. Instead, there is a direct tax impact on taxpayers. To get us all up to speed—as a quick refresh or a sort of “bonds recap”—bonds are the cheapest way for a city or county to raise money and build infrastructure. For example, this year’s Parks Bond means $275 million for city parks—and  equates to about a 4-cent tax increase to Raleigh homeowners, explains City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department Director Stephen C. Bentley. Translation: Raleigh homeowners with a January 2021 median tax value of $256,578 would see an estimated tax impact of approximately $103 annually. 

So as inflation soars and with so much at stake in a city seeing seismic growth, we take a look at the three bonds on this year’s ballot and break down their potential impact against cost to Raleigh taxpayers. And as you cast your vote this Nov. 8—bonds or not—remember who you vote for determines how our tax dollars are spent.

Raleigh Parks Bond Referendum | $275 million

Elevator Pitch

The bond referendum is an investment in Raleigh’s overall quality of life and community health, including our environmental, social, physical and mental health, as the pandemic has clearly demonstrated the essential value of our parks and recreation opportunities. This bond also provides equitable investments in new park construction and renovations across Raleigh to meet the changing needs in our greater community.

Tax Value

4-cent tax increase to Raleigh homeowners—estimated tax impact on median tax value home ($256,578 in January 2021) is approximately $103 annually.

Projects Included

District A

  • Big Branch Greenway Connector
  • Green Road Park improvements
  • Mine Creek Greenway improvements
  • Sertoma Art Center improvements

District B

  • Kyle Drive master plan and implementation
  • Neuse River Park

District C

  • Biltmore Hills Tennis improvements
  • John Chavis Historic Park Phase 2 (Aquatic Center and Heritage Plaza)
  • South Park Heritage Walk and Top Greene Center improvements
  • Tarboro Community Center

District B&C

  • Marsh Creek Greenway feasibility and
  • preliminary design

District C&D

  • Walnut Creek Greenway improvements

District D

  • Devereux Meadows implementation
  • Dix Park: Play plaza, buildings and operations upfit + Phase 2 design
  • Lake Wheeler Road and multiuse path improvements
  • Method Community Center improvements

District E

  • Erinsbrook Park implementation
  • Lake Lynn Trail Loop improvements
  • Strickland and Leesville road park improvements

Wake County Public School System Bond | $530.7 Million

Elevator Pitch

The bond would go toward 2024–25 WCPSS capital needs, including funds for five new schools and renovations of seven existing schools.

Tax Value

To fund, the county would add 1 cent to property tax, or $10 for every $100,000 of assessed value. Per the County, beginning in the 2024 fiscal year, a Wake County homeowner with an average assessed home value of $337,000 would see an additional $33.70 on their annual property tax bill.

Schools Included 

New Schools

  • Pleasant Plains Elementary School (Apex)
  • Bowling Road Elementary School (Fuquay-Varina)
  • Wendell Elementary School (Wendell)
  • Parkside Middle School (Morrisville)
  • Unidentified high school (West Cary and Morrisville)

Replacement Schools

  • Lockhart Elementary School (Knightdale)
  • Brentwood Elementary School (Raleigh)
  • Briarcliff Elementary School (Cary)
  • Washington Elementary School (Raleigh)
  • North Garner Middle School (Garner)
  • Ligon Middle School (Raleigh)
  • Athen Drive High School (Raleigh)

Wake Tech Workforce Forward Bond | $353.2 million

Elevator Pitch

The Wake Tech Bond would allocate money to Wake Tech Community College new buildings and repairs. A national study by Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workplace ranks Wake Tech in the top 20% of all colleges and universities in the nation, and the top 10% in North Carolina for student ROI 10 years after graduation. Investments in Wake Tech help provide job opportunities; create the skilled workforce a growing economy requires; and deliver a proven return on investment for students and the whole community. Independent studies indicate that Wake Tech generates more than $1 billion annually for our local economy, with each dollar invested in Wake Tech generating more than $7 in added income and social savings.

Tax Value

As with the WCPSS bond, to fund, the county would add 1 cent to property tax, or $10 for every $100,000 of assessed value.

Projects InCluded

  • Perry Health Sciences Campus expansion
  • Permanent Western Wake Campus
  • New Cyber Science facility on RTP Campus 
  • Investments on infrastructure

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  1. The NC lottery was started in 2005 for the sole purposes of funding education in the State. Since then it annually raises over 7.9 billion dollars of which has not been used wisely nor has the State provided accountability for those funds which should be used to pay teachers a living wage, improve education across the board by funding the building of new schools, provide the necessary educational tools & supplies teachers need to teach who often must pay for needed materials out of their own pocket. These are just a few of the inequities of a system that is broken. Education is a right, but its time for State government (legislature) to step up and use this money more effectively & wisely; they can start by paying quality Teachers a living wage and stop putting the cost of education back on the general public in each school system by double taxing for this right. Until we can pay and attract quality professionals to teach in this State I’m not going to support a system I see as broken nor do I accept that more money is going to solve the problem when there is such waste and lack of respect for the professionals who educate our children on nothing!

    Parks are not a right; they are spaces that must be maintained, staffed, cleaned, utilities & security provided; visitors need to start paying a token sum to use since a majority of the public uses them infrequently. So, who is really benefiting form this so called asset? Are we spending money to impress or to give the impression we are big shots! All public maintained parks are a never ending circle of money squandered over time. With the downward trend and high inflation I feel money should be spent else where there is a greater need like doing a better job of maintaining exiting parks.

    As for Wake Tech, they charge for their education and have funds in the billions to shore up their campus and programs. In my opinion, they should not be allowed to suck more money out of the State educational system when our public schools K-12 are suffering from a lack of sustained & adequate funding. It begs the question, “Why have a Technical School System if the students in the communities they serve are underserved by poor educations because the county or city systems don’t have the funds to provide the education these student need to attend a Tech School?” It’s a folly in the making, starve the public schools, but feed the Tech Schools who charge for their programs. You can’t have higher education without educating students in the public school system. Don’t forget, Technical schools were established to serve the local communities, but without qualified students to fill those spaces, what purpose do they serve? Maybe they need to do a better job of managing expectations & their money; remedial programs should not be function of a Tech School nor should the public school system have to be in competition with them for funding to educate students K-12.

  2. For us retirees , sounds like a lot of add on money to our already high property tax. What is an alternate way to raise the money they want?
    They tell us, elderly, it is best to stay in your homes but most are being taxed out of our homes!

    1. I have a question. If you have money yo invest, couldnt you buy some of these bonds and get interest?
      In the 70’s we bought NYC bonds called Big Macs. They were derided by all the big investor firms. And they gave us interest, plus they sold for much more than we bought them for.
      I think Wake county is worth investing in. Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to do this.

  3. Wake Works and the Wake Propel programs provide Wake Tech students free tuition and books and scholarships for some programs. The essential trade programs HVAC, plumbing, etc are in these programs along with bio tech and health sciences programs. I will always a support Wake Tech bond.
    Paying to go to a park would not allow all of our citizens access to outdoor experiences and the pandemic showed us how important parks and open spaces were to everyone. The legislature I agree should better Fiume teacher pay but it has fallen on the county to build the schools.

  4. Here is a story on the breakdown on what our local Gov has done to really mess up the lottery and where the money really is going…,that%20actually%20went%20to%20education.

    Education was supposed to get 35% (50% to lottery winners and the rest to administration costs). With a clear breakdown of 50% to reduce class sizes with more teachers, 40% construction, and 10% scholarships.

    But our Local reps decided to change it – now it’s only 27% for education – with our local officials deciding each year what to do with the money and where it goes. It also has the right to pull the funds (since they changed the rule) to fund other areas, which they do.

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