Frequently Asked Questions About the 2021 Bond Program

How much will the Town borrow?

The Town intends to borrow up to $69 million if voters approve all four referendum questions.

Why general obligation (GO) bonds?

General obligation bonds are the most fiscally responsible financing option available to the Town for capital projects, which are often costly and whose completion can span multiple fiscal years. The Town enjoys excellent bond ratings and financial management, so it would be able to issue GO bonds at low interest rates and issuance costs. This could save Garner taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars over the repayment period.

Why take on debt to pay for capital projects in this proposed bond program?

The Town of Garner’s financial health is excellent, as indicated by its superior bond ratings (AAA from S&P and Aa1 from Moody’s). But the Town does not have enough cash reserves available to fund much-needed capital projects while still maintaining outstanding levels of service or an adequate fund balance. Also, by financing these projects over 20 years (the repayment period for the bonds), future residents who will benefit from these capital projects can contribute toward paying for them too.

Does the Town have the capacity to assume this amount of debt?

Yes. For close to a decade, the Town Council has adhered to a fiscally responsible model that includes a critically important Revenue Savings Program. This has greatly increased the Town’s debt capacity while minimizing impacts on taxpayers. In addition, the Town has worked with a financial consulting firm (Davenport & Company) to build a strategic debt-servicing model that would enable the Town shoulder the amount of debt that the November 2021 referendum questions would authorize.

What are the tax implications if all four of the referendum questions pass?

If voters approve all four bond questions, the Town anticipates an estimated property-tax increase of 2 cents per $100 assessed property value to finance the bonds.

What would the tax implications be if not for the Revenue Savings Program?

The Revenue Savings Program was instituted in 2014. It sets aside a certain portion of the Town's annual growth in revenues so that those funds can help service future debt on large-scale capital projects. Without the funds the Town has accumulated as a result of the Revenue Savings Program, it is estimated that a tax-rate increase of 7.72 cents per $100 of valuation would be necessary to fund the proposed 2021 bond program.

If the referendum questions are approved, how quickly could projects begin?

It is difficult to give a simple answer, but it won’t be immediately. Many of the projects that would be financed with bond funds require professional design and also would need to be bid out before residents see construction begin. Design work on some projects—for example, widening of Jones Sausage Road and parkland development—is already underway. The Town plans to leverage bond funds to match grant/partner funding when possible. This could push completion of some projects farther out into the future, but it will reduce the burdens on Garner taxpayers.

What is the Town’s current bond rating and will this possible new debt affect the Town’s rating?

The Town has extremely strong bond ratings—AAA from S&P Global and Aa1 from Moody’s. The Town has worked with a financial consulting firm (Davenport & Company) to build a debt servicing model that will ensure that we can maintain these enviable bond ratings.

What happens if these some or all of the referendum questions do not pass?

If some or all of the referendum questions do not pass, critical capital projects in the areas of streets and sidewalks; parks and recreation; stormwater; and public safety facilities would have to be deferred indefinitely.

What projects were completed with the bonds voters approved in 2013?

In 2013, Garner voters approved $35.7 million in general obligation (GO) bonds for parks and recreation; streets and sidewalks; redevelopment; and public safety and services facilities. The Town has used the bonds to fund (partially or entirely) a wide range of projects that have benefited residents all across town. These projects include, but are not limited to, a new Town Hall and police headquarters; the Garner Recreation Center; land acquisition to further redevelopment of Historic Downtown Garner; street improvements and new sidewalks for New Rand Road; improvements to Jessup Drive at U.S. 70; installation of sidewalks in Historic Downtown Garner, along Buffaloe Road and in numerous other places around town; renovation of concessions and restroom structures at South Garner and Garner Recreational Parks; and two new dog parks in Lake Benson and Garner Recreational Parks.

How does the Town’s tax and fees burden compare with other local communities?

Garner has the lowest combined property tax and fees burden of any municipality in Wake County. Although the average property tax bill in Garner puts it about in the middle of the pack among Wake County municipalities, the Town of Garner does not charge separate fees for solid waste collection or for stormwater. In addition, Garner’s water and sewer charges are, on average, substantially lower than those in some other Wake County municipalities. When you tally up all these factors, Garner winds up being the most affordable community in Wake County.