9/16/18 Breaking down the bonds
Breaking down the bonds
Impact Alamance hosts information session on ABSS/ACC ballot measures
By Jessica Williams, The Times-News 9/1618
Reprinted with permission.
Website https://alamancebonds.com/ offers more information, including a breakdown of how bond money would be spent at each school.
ELON — If you have questions about the education bonds on the November ballot, Impact Alamance has answers.
The nonprofit hosted an information session Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Elon University’s Turner Theater to provide an overview of the $190 million in proposed bonds and how the county plans to pay for them.
Gerry Francis, retired executive vice president of Elon University, broke it down:
If passed, the Alamance-Burlington School System’s $150 million bond would pay for a $70 million high school and $80 million in renovations/expansions at the current six high schools and two elementary schools.
The new high school would take in students from Southern Alamance and Eastern Alamance high schools — both severely overcrowded — and cushion the rapid growth happening in the eastern part of the county, Francis said.
The $80 million would fund much-needed renovations and expansions at eight existing schools, including replacing windows and doors, removing lockers, repairing ceilings and roofs, renovating restrooms and installing new plumbing fixtures.
“It’s not fancy. It’s deferred maintenance,” Francis said. “A lot of it is deferred maintenance, and we’re making up for what we haven’t been doing in years past.”
The remaining 16 elementary and six middle schools won’t be affected by the bond, he added.
“So if you think this is the final step, that’s not going to be true,” Francis said.
Impact Alamance summarizes Alamance Community College’s $39.6 million bond as funding “21st century facilities for 21st century workers.”
It would pay for:
- a Biotechnology Center of Excellence;
- a Public Safety Training Center;
- a Student Services Learning and Development Center;
- expanding campus technology and renovating more than 26,000 square feet of classrooms, library and office spaces;
- expanding/upgrading child care and modernizing classrooms;
- establishing satellite locations and adding 15 or more classrooms; and
- building a 400-space multilevel parking deck.
“Right now, there are 15,000 students that use ACC and, let me tell you folks, that’s the enhanced workforce with extra training. … And you see these places that are opening up here — they’re looking for folks that are trained, and that will continue to be the work of the community college, which it does quite well,” Francis said.
Signs around the area urge voters to support the bonds.
Proposed sales tax
So, how is the county going to pay for these improvements?
“You’ve got $190 million in bonds right there,” Francis said. “It’s estimated by our county manager that that’s going to cost between seven and eight cents per 100 dollar valuation on your property taxes, okay? Seven or eight cents. Now, that tells you this: If you have a $150,000 home, eight cents will cost you $120 a year. That’s $10 a month. You can’t get a pizza for $10 a month.”
He added that the current tax rate in Alamance County is 59 cents compared to 73 cents in Guilford County and 83 cents in Orange County, so even with an eight-cent increase Alamance would maintain a lower tax rate than neighboring counties.
But the county is offering another option: a quartercent sales tax increase.
The current sales tax is 6.75 percent (6.75 cents per $1 purchase price), so this would raise it to 7 percent.
What would that mean?
“If you buy a $10 item, that will cost two and a half cents more,” Francis said. “If you buy a $100 item, it’s going to cost you a quarter [more]. It’s not a huge impact, but look what money it generates. It will generate $4.8 million a year that can be used for the debt service on this bond, … and it will bring [the property tax increase] down to four cents.”
The sales tax isn’t placed on food or gas, meaning it mostly would affect leisure purchases. That also means out-of-county and out-ofstate consumers spending money at Mebane’s Tanger Outlets would shoulder some of our bond burden.
An estimated 60 percent of the funds generated by the sales tax increase would come from outside of the county, Francis told the crowd.
“If somebody comes to Tanger and buys a shirt, they’re going to pay that extra quarter cent, and that’s going to come directly to our county. … The last [vote] means somebody in Guilford County is paying for [the bonds], rather than you paying for it out of your property taxes,” he said.
Get out and vote
These three items are three separate votes, and voting is imperative, Francis said.
“We’ve got some consultants working with us on all of this, and the estimate is that it’s going to take 22,000 votes to get these approved,” he said. “I think that’s equal to 22 percent of our registered voters, one in five. So the whole thing is this: for you folks to be informed and to take it and tell somebody else.”
Early voting begins Wednesday, Oct. 17, and ends Saturday, Nov. 3. Three sites are set up:
- Alamance County Annex Building, Graham;
- Arts & Community Center, Mebane; and
- Holly Hill Mall, Burlington.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Registered voters can find their polling places on the county Board of Elections website, https://www.alamance-nc.com/boardofelections/.
“We cannot fail on this because I can tell you, honestly, that I don’t know what we’ll do if we don’t pass these bond issues because what we’re doing now with the facilities we’ve got just isn’t satisfactory,” Francis said.