BRADENTON, Fla. – Gilt-edged Wake County, N.C., is being asked to schedule an $810 million bond referendum on Oct. 8 to meet the needs of the county’s fast-growing school district.
The district’s total capital improvement program is $939.9 million, which would be supplemented by cash.
In North Carolina, counties issue debt for schools.
Wake County commissioners and school board members have met with staff monthly since January to prepare the school facility funding plan, which included examining various scenarios for bond financing and its impact on per capita debt levels consistent with those of triple-A rated counties, documents show.
Officials agreed on the $939.95 million capital plan for fiscal 2014 to 2017 to be supported with $810 million of general obligation bonds and $129.95 million from cash.
The proposed property tax increase to support the bond program would cost an extra $145.72 on homes with an assessed value of $263,500, the average assessed value of a home in Wake County, according to county documents.
The capital program will provide $528.3 million for 16 new schools, $234.9 million for renovations at up to nine schools, and $167.75 million for support items such as equipment.
The school board adopted a resolution Tuesday requesting the county to move forward with the bond financing program.
The County Commission will consider the resolution July 1 officials said.
Wake County encompasses 864 square miles in north-central North Carolina, and is the state’s second-most populous county with 952,151 residents.
There are 11 municipalities, including Raleigh, the state capital.
The school district encompasses the entire county.
Though school enrollment slowed in recent years and did not keep pace with projections made prior to the economic downturn, the district still saw annual growth.
“To speak generally, the greater Raleigh area experienced a housing boom and our enrollment was growing rapidly prior to the recession,” said school district spokeswoman Samiha Khanna.
In the 2006-2007 school year 128,072 students were enrolled in 147 schools.
In the current school year, 149,508 students are enrolled in 169 schools, Khanna said.
By 2014, the population of Wake County is projected to exceed one million. It’s one of the nation’s fastest growing counties.
At the County Commission meeting July 1, the board will be asked to adopt the school capital program, begin work on bond financing documents and hold a public hearing, and set the referendum for Oct. 8.
Oct. 8 is already an election day for the Wake County school board, and for municipal elections in Raleigh and the town of Cary.
If the new bond authorization is approved Oct. 8, it will be the second-largest amount of bonds ever approved by Wake County voters.
In 2006, they authorized the issuance of $970 million of bonds for school capital needs.
All of the debt approved in 2006 has been sold. Proceeds were used to build 17 new schools, renovate 13 facilities as well as to purchase land, equipment, and furniture.