DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. — Davidson County Board of Commissioners approved five bond packages to appear on the ballot in November.
At the first of the board's two regular June meetings, commissioners passed three resolutions that will precede an application to the Local Government Commission for approval to place the measures on the ballot. Commissioners Lance Barrett, Zak Crotts, Steve Shell, Don Truell and Todd Yates voted in favor of each resolution, while Commissioners Steve Jarvis and Fred McClure voted against.
The approval came following last month's survey results, which revealed that a poll of 500 county residents favor a potential education bond referendum over the idea of footing the bill for a proposed sports complex. A $30 million bond package to repair roofs, heat and air for the schools received overwhelming support, with 77% of respondents saying they would vote for it.
"The school roofs, to me, is a major important thing," Crotts said. "I want our children to go to school and be in a dry location. Also, the HVAC stuff, I think there's part of that in the $30 million to fix the air conditioners in the gyms. Just last week, I think there were two or three times an EMS had to go to gyms because kids were passing out from the heat. If we need to borrow the money to fix this stuff now, so be it. It doesn't have to be a bond."
Jarvis expressed concerns regarding the act of putting the items on the ballot and also suggested alternatives to the proposed $30 million bond package. He suggested rather than replacing the roofs in their entirety, patching the roofs has proven effective for similar projects.
Regarding the idea of placing five potential packages on the ballot, Jarvis said he didn't like the idea of raising taxes.
"I'd be in favor of probably pulling all of them," Jarvis said. "I'm not in favor of going with a 7-cent tax increase. I just don't feel like I can vote to move it forward to the ballot, personally."
Further, Jarvis said he did not believe a majority of voters would have a say in whether these measures were passed. With the 2018 elections being non-presidential, the commissioner expressed dissatisfaction with the timing of the proposed bond referendum.
"One other concern I have is we're putting this on an off-year election when minimal people show up to vote," Jarvis said. "I understand they can get out and vote, but typically in a presidential year, you have a larger turnout," Jarvis said. "So you say you want to give it to the people, but you're giving it to a third — not even a third — a very minute, few people to decide what goes forward."
McClure also stated his preference to pull all of the bonds, saying voters elect commissioners to make these decisions, not bring them to the voters at the ballot box. He also pointed to the fact commissioners will have to replace the roofs on the schools eventually anyway.
"The worst thing you can do in a growing economy is increase taxes," McClure said. "I think we ought to do our job as commissioners, plan for what we want to spend. We've done a good job of doing that in the past."
In addition to the school bond package, four others will appear on the ballot. Those four include: a $40 million sports complex bond package; a $5.2 million agricultural center bond; a $10.9 million parks and recreation bond; and a $3.5 million bond for sewer expansion to the future Davidson County Community College link campus and Davis-Townsend Elementary.