Building a Brighter Future
Oct 06, 2016 02:34PM
● By Bryan Scott
By Mayor Carmen R. Freeman
Since the announcement of a new City Hall and the adjoining five acre Community Park which will constitute our Towne Center, some of our residents have voiced deep concerns as to the timing of such a project as well as the financial obligation the city would incur. To hopefully deter any fear or anxiety our residents may feel from pursuing such a course and to provide a level of comfort and reassurance, let me mention a few clarifying facts regarding this undertaking.
First, our neighboring communities are on the move economically. If we are going to be a strong player in the arena of commercial growth, the Towne Center will help us to move forward in this endeavor. Currently, a running store as well as a bike shop have already committed to coming to the Towne Center. Other stores and shops will be quick to follow with the added consumer presence that the City Hall and park will provide.
Some of our residents may wonder why commercial growth is so important to our community. Presently, nearly 40% of our general fund income to run the city is derived from new building permits. This source of income is unsustainable and will eventually inhibit the future growth of our city. That is why it is imperative that we pursue the pathway of commercial opportunity and growth which will provide a more stable form of income. I believe the Towne Center with its associated economic development will place us on the pathway to financial strength and sustainability.
Second, it is imperative to understand how this project will be financed. The 15 million dollars required to pay for the City Hall will be financed through a Special Assessment Bond. Payments toward the bond will come exclusively from current sales and franchise taxes being collected. The 5 million dollar Community Park will be paid for by current city revenue and park impact fees. Through this innovative and sensitive approach to financing, residents can be reassured that they will not be asked to personally carry the financial burden of this project.
It is important to note, that the bond rate that was recently put in place to cover this project was extremely favorable. Because of this fortuitous blessing, it will limit our debt liability and allow us to retire the bond in a timely manner.
Third, we have outgrown our current City Hall. Although this wonderful building has provided great service over the years to our staff and residents, we now find ourselves woefully deficient in office space and other facilities to operate the city. Some have suggested leasing additional office space or building a modular structure as an interim solution. Both of these suggestions would require a significant investment not to mention the added cost of computer and telephone networking. Additionally, the city organizationally would be less efficient and serviceable by trying to operate in separate facilities. Constructing a new City Hall that will meet the needs of an ever growing population and staff certainly makes sense economically and administratively.
The construction of the Towne Center will be an opportunistic moment in our rich community history. It will be a place where we have established ourselves as a viable and distinct presence in the commercial arena, it will be a place that clearly and distinctively identifies our community vision and values and it will be a place where we can gather as a community to unify our interests and strengthen our relationships.
The Towne Center will be a welcomed addition to our community and will propel us forward in building a brighter future.