Public will have say on proposed CCCC bonds

Jul. 21, 2014 @ 07:57 AM

Lee County citizens will have the opportunity Monday to voice their opinions, comments and concerns regarding four proposed community college bonds, which total $23 million dollars, that may appear on the ballot this November.

A public hearing on the bonds is planned during the Lee County Board of Commissioners’ meeting at 6 p.m. at the Lee County Government Center on Hillcrest Drive.

The hearing will focus on the $9 million bond for a new health science building for Central Carolina Community College, the $5 million bond to renovate the college’s veterinary medical technology facility, the $4 million bond to renovate CCCC’s emergency services training center and other facilities and the $5 million bond to renovate the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center.

Board Chairman Charlie Parks said he believes there will be more citizens speaking for the bonds than against them, and that the community has been supportive of the bonds thus far.

“We voted to present it as a bond issue on the ballot,” Parks said. “According to the law, you have to have a public hearing on that. The public hearing is to get the public’s input. Then we’ll vote on whether to put it on the ballot or not. I suspect, since it gives the public the ability to vote for it, they will probably be supportive of it.”

Commissioner Jim Womack said he supports the public getting a say on the bond issues, but he expressed concern that some capital initiatives were not going to appear on the ballot — chiefly, funding to build a new elementary school in the county.

“It’s something we know we have to do,” Womack said of building a new school. “We’re not sure if we have to do it this year or next year, but we know it’s coming. We know it’s got to be done.”

Womack said failing to include a bond issue for an elementary school was akin to misleading voters.

“They’ll come back after we vote on these bonds this fall,” Womack said. “They’ll come back the year after and say, ‘This is something you have to do, and we’re going to raise your taxes to do this.’ It’s not fair to give them a partial view of what’s going to increase their taxes. It’s a game that’s being played, and I don’t like playing those games with the public.”

Commissioner Ricky Frazier agreed a new elementary school would be necessary at some point but noted the Lee County Board of Education had not asked for funding for a new school.

“I don’t think we need to put something on there that’s not been requested,” Frazier said. “However, I know there is a need for an elementary school, and we need to put that in the budget in the future. I think this is the route we should take instead of doing something we haven’t been asked for.”

Parks said a presentation on a proposed roundabout at Hawkins Avenue and U.S. 1 would be discussed at the meeting as well, and that he had his doubts as to how effective a roundabout would be.

“There are no rules for roundabouts,” Parks said. “If you have a yield sign, you’re supposed to yield until everybody gets by. But sometimes, if you get a lot of traffic, there’s no way to get over to do your turnoff. I’m not sold that it will improve safety any at all.”

Womack said, while people tend to dislike roundabouts when they are first put in, there are some areas that benefit from using them.

“I know they’re not popular at all when they’re first introduced in a given neighborhood,” he said. “... From a DOT perspective, they make good sense for certain traffic challenges, like the safety challenge out on 15-501. We’ve had a lot of accidents out there, and we have to do something. It looks like a roundabout will be the best solution there.”

The full agenda for the board’s Monday meeting can be found online at leecountync.gov.