'Sanford Matters' promoting bond issues

Aug. 18, 2013 @ 07:14 PM

Former Sanford City Councilman Joe Martin says he’s helping lead a committee to promote the city’s four bond issues because their passage will help move Sanford forward.

Martin and other bond supporters have formed a group they’re calling “Sanford Matters” — and have scheduled a public “bond rally” for Aug. 22 — with the goal of educating voters about the facts behind the bonds and promoting the need for the improvements the bonds will provide. 

“These projects — some of which I worked for years on the city council — will push our community in the right direction,” said Martin, who served 16 years on city council and didn’t seek re-election when his last term ended in 2009. “We are losing the race against other communities and, when put in place, these proposals will help us regain lost ground and be competitive once more.”

Martin said Sanford had been a “sort of a Rip Van Winkle community” for a few years. 

“It’s time to wake up and be the best Sanford we can be,” he said. “The Sanford Matters committee believes Sanford does matter to many people in this community and that is evident every time our committee meets. The crowd of supporters is bigger and bigger every time.”

The group’s first meeting included 10 attendees. A subsequent meeting drew nearly 20, and this week’s meeting — held Thursday morning at Temple Theatre — drew 30, including former elected officials, downtown Sanford and Jonesboro business and property owners and others interested in what the bonds will provide. 

City voters will cast ballots on Sept. 10 on the four bonds, including:

* A $6.5 million streetscape and pedestrian bonds to improve walkway areas and provide streetscape renovations in downtown Sanford and Jonesboro. 

* A $4 million greenways and trails bond to extend the Endor Iron Furnace Greenway.

* A $2 million parks and recreation bond to improve existing recreational facilities. 

* A $2 million sidewalk improvement bond to maintain, repair and add new sidewalks in Sanford.

More details about the bonds are available on the city’s website (www.sanfordnc.net) and from a series of stories published in The Herald (www.sanfordherald.com). “Sanford Matters” has created a Facebook page devoted to the bonds at www.facebook.com/sanfordmatters. 

Martin noted that with early voting less than a week away, those involved with Sanford Matters will be meeting weekly and on an as-needed basis. The group, he said, is open to anyone with an interest in promoting the cause. They’re raising money to purchase yard signs to promote the bonds, but also working one-on-one to call voters with facts about the bonds.

Members are working to “hammer out the negatives” about the referendums, which Martin said deal primarily with the possible property tax increase the bonds’ passage may necessitate. 

“People say, right off the bat, ‘I can’t afford another 5 cents on my property taxes,’” he said. “We’re telling people that’s the worst-case scenario … once those bonds are sold, the city may be able to incur some of that debt, and may not even have to raise taxes that much at all.”

The economic benefit from the four items on the Sept. 10 ballot — particularly from the streetscape bonds — have to be noted, Martin said. He and others will address those and other bond questions at the rally, scheduled for 5-7 p.m., just prior to Thursday’s “Function at the Junction” event at Depot Park. In addition, city officials have been asked to come to answer questions about the bond items, projects and tax implications. Anyone with questions or concerns is invited to come out, have a hot dog and get informed. 

Martin said those interested in volunteering, obtaining yard signs, window signs or stickers should contact him directly at his place of business, John-Beverly Printing, at (919) 776-6022.