On Monday, the city council will hear a presentation on a potential bond referendum that would go to voters. The council could direct the staff to continue working on the bond proposal or withhold support. Based on interviews, it appears the majority of council members are willing to consider supporting the referendum.
"The need for transportation continues to grow," said Mayor
Saffo said the city needs money to improve roads and sidewalks, especially considering the city's predictions that its population will grow by 50,000 people in the next 25 years.
"You've got to make plans now for how people are going to move around or it's going to be extremely uncomfortable," Saffo said.
At this point, the exact plans have not been announced. Officials have not said when the bond issue may be put to voters or what projects it would include.
There has not yet been a discussion of the dollar amount of the proposed bond borrowing, said
He said Monday's presentation will include potential projects to improve roads and bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
The most recent transportation bond, approved by voters in 2006, funded projects such as the
Traffic and transportation remain among the top concerns city residents voice in periodic surveys. As of the 2012 survey, only about 30 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the management of traffic flow on city streets and the maintenance of streets and sidewalks.
That same year, the city created a specially financed five-year capital improvement plan to address delayed maintenance on streets and sidewalks and other infrastructure such as the Riverwalk. To help fund that program, the council raised the property tax rate by
Meanwhile, residents overwhelmingly favor improvements to the transportation network, and a majority of those responding to the survey are willing to pay for it. In the 2012 survey, 58 percent of residents said they would be willing to support a bond referendum to improve the transportation network.
On Monday, the staff will look to council members for direction on whether the city should move forward with a bond initiative.
"It would go to a referendum if council supports moving forward with some sort of transportation bond," Kozlosky said. In addition to discussing projects, he said he will brief council members on evaluation criteria that could be considered.
Saffo said people expect to know what projects would be included on a bond they are voting on.
The list of projects will be long, the mayor said. It's possible the bond amount will be more than 2006's
Ultimately, he said the council will prioritize what it identifies as the most strategic projects.
"We've come to a point where there's very little transportation money that's out there," he said. "We've got to continue to improve our roadways, and, in some cases, expand the capacities on these roadways."
"My feeling is that's a good way to do things," O'Grady said.
It is common for cities to seek voter approval to finance large transportation improvement projects, said
Kozlosky said the list of potential projects will be compiled with several plans in mind. Plans officials reviewed included
On Twitter: @julian_march
(c)2014 the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.)
Visit the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.) at www.starnewsonline.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services