Come November, voters in Fayetteville will decide on bonds valued at $97 million that would fund public safety, infrastructure and housing initiatives in the city.
Following a public hearing on Monday, Fayetteville City Council unanimously approved placing the bonds on the ballot for November’s general election.
The funding for each portion of the bonds — public safety, infrastructure and housing — would be $60 million, $25 million and $12 million, respectively, if passed by voters.
Some residents spoke in favor of the public safety portion of the bonds, but there were no speakers that spoke either for or against the other bonds.
Each portion will be a separate vote in November’s election, meaning voters can cast separate, possibly different, votes on each bond item.
Property taxes would increase if any are passed. The amount increased would depend on which bonds, if any, are approved, according to reporting from Carolina Public Press when the city council approved putting the bonds toward a referendum.
If all bonds are approved, it would require an increase of about 4 cents per $100 home valuation.
If the voting results required the full 4 cents, a home valued at $200,000, for example, would see an annual increase of around $80 or a monthly increase of just under $7.
According to city documents, the interest rate for the bonds would be an annual 4.5%. If each bond is approved by the voters, the total interest paid over the 20-year repayment period on the $97 million sum of the bonds would be $45.8 million.
However, this interest amount is an estimation and could change over the course of the repayment of the bond.
Votes for the bonds will be cast during the general election on Nov. 8 and the preceding early voting period.
Monday’s meeting was the last for four city council members: Antonio Jones, Chris Davis, Larry Wright and Yvonne Kinston.
Jones, Wright and Kinston lost reelection to challengers in July’s municipal election. Davis did not run for reelection as he ran for N.C. House District 45 and lost May’s Democratic primary to Frances Jackson.
Fire, police improvements in public safety bond
The largest bond, $60 million for public safety, would fund the construction of new fire stations on Cedar Creek Road, Santa Fe Drive and Olive Street, as well as renovations at other stations.
The public safety portion would also cover the construction of a 911 center at a yet-to-be-determined location, as well as renovations to other police facilities. At $33 million, the construction of the center would be the largest project among the $60 million portion of the bond.
Two retired Fayetteville firefighters, Calvin Bishop and Richard Bradshaw, spoke in favor of the public safety portion.
“This bond has been sorely needed for years,” Bishop said. “Some of our fire stations are from 1976 or even earlier.”
“This bond package would be a great way to bring everything up to date,” Bradshaw said, speaking on behalf of the Cumberland County Fire Chiefs Association. “The bond is greatly needed.”
Cindy McCormic, executive director of the Fayetteville Police Foundation, spoke in favor of the funding for the police facilities.
She spoke about the need for more vehicle capacity and more room for training classes within the police department.
“If we want to have a 21st century police force, then we need to fund a 21st century police force,” McCormic said.
Sidewalks, bike lanes, street repairs in infrastructure bond
The $25 million infrastructure portion, if passed by voters, would include funding for sidewalks, intersection improvements, bike lanes and street repavement.
Of the $25 million, $7.3 million would go to the construction of 14.5 miles of new sidewalks.
Improvements to various intersections, for the purpose of pedestrian safety, would total $800,000.
According to a 2018 study from the city of Fayetteville, there were 957 pedestrian crashes in Fayetteville from 2007 to 2014. Of those, 31% occurred when the pedestrian was trying to cross the street.
Street repavement could cover 63 miles and total $14.7 million, but depending on how the use of the funds would be ultimately decided, the amount could preserve 109 miles of current pavement.
New bike lanes would cost $450,000.
According to a 2020 study from the city, there were 277 bicycle crashes in Fayetteville from 2007 to 2016. Of those crashes, three people died and five sustained disabling injuries.
In that same study, a survey found that 85% of respondents felt at least somewhat unsafe biking in Fayetteville, and 38% of those, a plurality, felt very unsafe.
The estimated cost of these construction projects would be $1.75 million, if the bond is passed by voters in November.
Third bond supports affordable housing
For the $12 million housing portion, these funds would go toward incentivizing third parties partnering with the city on affordable housing projects.
Some of the funding could also go toward a housing trust fund and homeownership programs, among other initiatives.
Mayor Mitch Colvin, at a council meeting in May, spoke in favor of the housing portion, citing statistics gathered by the city that there was a shortage of 20,000 units for affordable housing.
In June, the council approved grant funding toward the trust fund and other affordable housing projects from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the American Rescue Plan, federal legislation meant to help local governments respond and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.