Local Politics

Mayors join forces to push Raleigh bonds

Posted October 4, 2011 7:11 p.m. EDT
Updated October 10, 2011 1:09 p.m. EDT

Money

— Two former Raleigh mayors and Mayor Charles Meeker joined other city officials Tuesday in trying to boost support for two bond issues on next week's ballot.

Raleigh voters will be asked on Oct. 11 to approve or deny issuing $40 million in bonds to pay for transportation projects like street paving, sidewalk repairs and walking and biking trails and another $16 million to build and renovate affordable housing in the city.

Proponents of the bond issues say the things they would pay for are key to Raleigh's recent recognition by Businessweek as the No. 1 place to live in America.

"If you look at bonds, water and sewer bonds will generally pass. People want their faucets to work when they turn them on," said Smedes York, who was mayor of Raleigh from 1979 to 1983. "When you look at greenways, sidewalks and public housing, it's a little more difficult to get the message out. But to be a great city, the whole fabric of a city has to work."

The transportation bonds also would upgrade the transit station at Moore Square and begin redeveloping a warehouse area west of downtown for a planned Union Station to serve as a regional transportation hub.

"By having amenities that citizens want, then businesses come here, jobs are available and that's where the tax base is increased," York said. "In the short term, there may be increased cost, but in the long term, this is what makes it a really great city."

If both bond issues are approved, they would add $17 a year in property taxes for a median-priced $188,000 home.

Meeker said the city is asking for less than it has in the past – voters approved a $60 million transportation bond in 2005 – because of the sputtering economy.

Dallas Woodhouse, state director of the conservative Americans for Prosperity, said any new bonds are too expensive for people now.

"Raleigh voters need to know that all these bonds will result in property tax increases, property tax increases that many can not afford now," Woodhouse said.

Projects included in the transportation bond:

  • Tryon Road widening and realignment, $1.8 million
  • Street resurfacing program, $10.05 million
  • South Street/Lenoir Street two-way conversion, $2 million
  • Hillsborough Street streetscape planning from Gardner Street to Rosemary Street, $1 million
  • Blount/Person corridor study, $250,000
  • City-initiated new sidewalk construction, $4.75 million
  • Citizen petition projects for new sidewalk construction, $3 million
  • Sidewalk repair reserve, $4 million
  • Moore Square Transit Center facility improvements, $3.5 million
  • Transit corridor improvements (shelters and benches), $750,000
  • Union Station improvements, $3 million
  • Walnut Creek Greenway from New Hope Road to the Neuse River, $3.2 million
  • Lumley/Westgate Road corridor greenway and bicycle lane improvements, $2.2 million
  • Rosengarten Greenway, $500,000