City pitches bond projects at Public Policy Luncheon

Aug. 06, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

The Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce’s Public Policy Luncheon Monday kick-started a string of city presentations planned on Sanford’s $14.5 million bond referendum proposals.  

Sanford-Lee County Planning Director Bob Bridwell and Downtown Sanford Inc. Executive Director David Montgomery led the PowerPoint presentation about the four bond referendum items at The Flame Steakhouse, which was followed by questions from the audience of business and civic leaders. 

These “community defining” projects add to Sanford’s sense of place, improves the quality of life for residents and enhances the physical aspects of the city, Bridwell said. The private sector is unlikely to participate in a project if the public sector is not willing to invest in it first, he said.

“All of these projects are meant to create private investment,” he said.

The bond referendums, which city voters will consider during the Sept. 10 primary, are:

Parks and Recreation: $2 million for an “open space” set to include interactive play areas and water elements.

Sidewalk Improvements: $2 million for various sidewalk extensions and repairs to highly traveled areas.

Trails and Greenway: $4 million for a four-mile extension of the Endor Iron Furnace Greenway from its current location on Carbonton Road to Central Carolina Hospital and then to downtown Sanford and the Sanford Municipal Center.

* Streetscape Improvements: $6.5 million for streetscape improvements for downtown Sanford and Jonesboro. 

The city has 20 years to pay back the debt incurred through the bond referendums, according to City Manager Hal Hegwer, and Sanford has a total of $1.2 million in debt.

“There is room for debt, if the voters are willing,” he said.

City residents could expect a 5.2 cent increase to their property tax rate — or a $52 annual increase for a home valued at $100,000 — if all of the projects began at the same time. This, Hegwer said, won’t happen.

After the presentation, some in attendance asked what was the timeline for the projects if they were approved. The city has engineering plans prepared for several of the projects, including the sidewalks, streetscape and greenway expansion, Bridwell said, and the city has seven years to issue the bonds.

“None of these will solve all of our issues,” he said. “But they will push us to the next level.”

City staff members are scheduled to give similar presentations to various civic and business groups throughout the following weeks including on Wednesday and Thursday to the Kiwanis Club of Lee County and the Jonesboro Rotary Club, respectively.

More information about the bond referendums is available online