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Educators, Others Fear Bond Overload Will Push Voters Too Hard

Posted January 29, 2007
Updated January 30, 2007

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— From schools to roads to greenways and beyond, bonds are being considered more and more as a way to make up financial shortfalls.

If you live in Raleigh, you could be voting on five multimillion-dollar bonds this fall.

That does not even take into account five more bonds that the state of North Carolina is considering.

Less than four months after voters approved a highly debated $970 million Wake County public school construction bond, county commissioners want to put another large school bond on the ballot.

Both the Wake County Board of Education and county commissioners agree that another high-dollar bond is inevitable.

What they and other parties disagree on is the timing.

The school bond could ruin the chances for the other bonds, such as a $100 million bond for Wake Technical Community College, a $60 million bond for county libraries and another $50 million bond for open space.

"We are very concerned," Wake Technical Community College President Dr. Stephen Scott said.

With so many bonds likely to be on the ballot, Scott realizes there could be voter exhaustion -- people at the polls could be less willing to go along with certain bonds, making his job even tougher.

"It will be up to us to inform the public about what the needs are and what the payback is," Scott said.

Some school board members, such as Lori Millberg, believe county commissioners' surprise move over the weekend to vote in favor

School board member Lori Millberg says the board's research shows another bond so soon after last November's would not pass.

She believes that with five board of education members up for re-election this fall, the decision by the Republican-controlled county commission is political.

For the school bond to officially be placed on the ballot, school board members must request that to happen. School board members hoped to put another near-billion-dollar bond on the ballot in a few years.

"Putting a bond on the ballot that is doomed to fail is not going to accomplish anything," Millberg said.

But Wake County Commission Chairman Tony Gurley disagrees.

"We think moving it forward and mixing it with other quality-of-life bonds would improve the chances that it would pass," Gurley said.

Ballard Everett, a consultant who has campaigned successfully in the past for school bonds, says voter fatigue can be an issue. But in the past, he says, several bonds have passed on the same ballot.

"The Wake County school bond referendum is going to be a tough sell, but I wouldn't says it's going to be dead on arrival," Everett said.
15 Comments

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  • wondermom67 Jan 30, 2007

    Several years ago we the wonderful tax payers of Wake county voted down a tax increase for our schools. It did not matter, the county money hogs increased the taxes for WCPSS. Your darned if you do and darned if you don't. I do not agree in more taxes for the schools, if htey managed their money better and stoped giving themselves undeserved raises, our children may reap the benefit of a decent education. The WC public school board, have been told time and time again how to manage growth without raising taxes. My family and I will vote again everyone that sits on the board, and we are just going to have to move out of the county, the prices that we are having to pay is getting out of control. There is a better way but they refuse to listen.

  • superman Jan 30, 2007

    You remember the problems they had with the school bus garage-- several million dollars stolen-- how they going to oversee a billion dollars?

  • olddude Jan 30, 2007

    Bond request are not going to stop. It is a part of the school board/commissioner mentality now. Folks, if you don't like what is going on and don't like what leaders are voting for, then get your butts out on election day and vote them out of office. If nothng else gets their attention, that will. I will support bonds for Wake Tech because my son got a better education there than he ever did in a certain Wake county high school. I had to buy him his own text books for three years because he could not even bring one home from school to study from. I will never support another Wake County shcool bond again. It is just money wasted by too many political bureaucrats who do not know the meaning of fiscal responsibility or accountability.

  • Oh Smeg Jan 30, 2007

    Throwing money, especially tax money, at a problem will not make a problem go away, it only adds more problems. Fiscal responsibility and some belt-tightenting on the part of the school system is called for first. Prove to the public that the schools have done all they possibly can to trim the fat and cut the over-inflated bureaucracy. Taking more from the public each year is just like throwing money down a dark hole with no end in sight. I was staunchly against the last bond for this reason.

  • Crumps Br0ther Jan 30, 2007

    I thought the LOTTERY was for the schools? Why does the school board have its hand out again already? What is happening to the lottery money? I know people are buying tickets.

  • IveGotMyOpinion Jan 30, 2007

    Yes to bonds for Wake Tech, NO to Wake County Schools. It's hard to get into some Wake Tech programs, and the parking lot is over capacity every day on the main campus. Wake Tech is a huge success. As for the Wake County School board, they have gone crazy if they think the popular vote will send them another large chunk of change anytime soon. They got theirs, now they must prove they can fulfill their promises. The rest of the infrastructure (roads) will need to catch up for all the building they plan. Forget about it!

  • Execution Style Jan 30, 2007

    this is a test

  • St Ives Jan 30, 2007

    Impact fees are the way to go. Just work it in to the price of the house.

  • clackymcsplatter Jan 30, 2007

    it is NOT the gov't job to educte YOUR kids...it is yours... school vouchers solve all of this

  • builder276 Jan 29, 2007

    yes, I think it will push us to have a recall election on the bond passed last year. Maybe we should reevaluate that election with a new one. Just to see if it would still pass

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