Local Government Commission Approves $57 Million Request for Project Grace | Eastern North Carolina Now

The New Hanover County Project was Among $1.9 Billion in Successful Financing Requests

Press Release:

    (Boone, N.C.)     New Hanover County can proceed with obtaining the $57 million in financing it says it needs to fund Project Grace in downtown Wilmington now that the Local Government Commission (LGC) has signed off on the deal.

    The redevelopment project spans a three-acre, county-owned block in Wilmington that would feature construction of a 95,000-square-foot library and museum, but require demolition of the existing buildings. Groundbreaking is expected to occur by the end of the year, with an opening of the new facility projected by the end of 2025. Commercial and residential development is also planned for the block.

    "This idea was around for nearly a decade before I was state treasurer. There's been nothing graceful about it. The drama around this and other projects was completely avoidable, but they lacked the right level of transparency, competence and an eye on conflicts of interest that can have the potential of punishing taxpayers," said State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA. He chairs the LGC and was among those who cast nay votes in the 5-4 decision.

    Project Grace was among a host of items on the Oct. 3 meeting agenda that totaled $1.9 billion in financing approval requests. The LGC is staffed by the Department of State Treasurer (DST). The commission has a statutory duty to approve most debt issued by units of local government and public authorities in the state. The commission examines whether the amount of money that units borrow is adequate and reasonable for proposed projects and confirms the governmental units can reasonably afford to repay the debt. It also monitors the financial well-being of more than 1,100 local government units.

    The meeting was held on the Appalachian State University campus as part of Treasurer Folwell's initiative to bring Raleigh government operations to other parts of the state. Earlier in the day he spoke to students at Watauga High School, and later to a group of App State students.

    The largest item on the agenda was a request from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) to issue $750 million in revenue bonds. Commission members approved the item. The housing agency said the bonds are necessary to increase the state's supply of affordable housing, and will be used to continue the home ownership program for families of low and moderate income for 2023 and 2024. That amount dwarfs the $418.5 million in affordable housing financing the LGC approved in all of fiscal year 2022.

    The city of Charlotte (Mecklenburg County) received approval for three requests totaling $535 million. One request was to refund $235 million in general obligation bonds to achieve nearly $1.4 million in interest savings. Another was for $100 million in certificate of participation refunding to reap over $2.3 million in savings through lower interest rates. The third was for a $200 million short-term note for streets and neighborhood improvement projects as part of a draw on a previously approved bond authorization.

    The Fayetteville Public Works Commission (Cumberland County) received the go-ahead for over $300 million in financing for three projects. The agency can now issue $295 million in revenue bonds for 17 projects to improve electric, water and sanitary sewer systems. That will include extension of lines into annexed areas, replacement and upgrading sewer mains and treatment facilities. Part of the money would be used to refund a previous bond issue. Approval also was granted for a $5 million increase in a revolving loan for water/sewer improvements at Big Rockfish Creek Outfall including installation of lines and manholes and replacing erosion control devices, roadways, driveways and curbs in annexed and unserved areas. A $430,000 revolving loan increase was approved to abandon six lift stations to be replaced by lines to reroute the flows.

    Currituck County got LGC approval of $60 million in limited obligation bonds to build a new Tulls Creek Elementary School due to population growth in the area. Plans are to construct a 118,000-square-foot building with an 800-student capacity. The two-story building would have 58 classrooms. A tax increase of 4 cents per $100 of assessed property value is anticipated in 2024, with an additional 4 cents in 2025.

    The Onslow Water and Sewer Authority obtained the go-ahead to issue $50 million in revenue bonds, and LGC members gave a thumbs up to the Onslow County Hospital Authority for $23.1 million in revenue bonds. The Water and Sewer Authority will use the bond proceeds to purchase Pluris LLC and Pluris Web LLC wastewater treatment and collections systems. That is part of an effort to increase its present customer base of 7,900 wastewater customers with 6,000 new customers, improve environmental conditions and allow for further expansion. The Hospital Authority will use its financing on capital improvement projects to address critical infrastructure and equipment needs.

    LGC members approved Brunswick County's request to issue $25 million in revenue bonds to increase the treatment capacity of the Shallotte wastewater treatment plant. The work includes construction of a new wastewater treatment plant that will allow sewage flow from Southport to be treated. It is part of a regional wastewater treatment system that Brunswick County and Southport are entering into for cost savings and long-term treatment security.

    Wilkes County will issue $25 million in limited obligation bonds following LGC approval. Proceeds will be used to build and equip a new county government administration building. The four-story, 154,000-square-foot structure is essential to provide handicap access, safety and security to employees, parking and sufficient space for current and future needs.

    The Burlington Housing Authority (Alamance County) got the green light to issue $25 million in conduit revenue bonds. The proceeds will be loaned to CFC-Burlington I, LLC, of Arizona to partially fund the acquisition of an existing hotel for renovation and equipping into a 131-unit multifamily rental housing development for families of low and moderate income.

    LGC members gave the OK to Lee County to proceed with a $17 million limited obligation bond to create a multi-sport complex. The project would include three youth baseball fields, a full-size baseball field, two full-size turf multi-use fields, eight full-size natural fields that could accommodate soccer play, and a picnic area.

    The LGC signed off on $13 million in limited obligation bonds to be issued by Person County for construction and renovation at Person High School. Work will include handicap access, security improvements and removal of some parking areas. The project is necessary to meet growth in student and staff population.

    The LGC also approved financing requests from Banner Elk (Avery County), $1 million for downtown parking improvements; Boiling Springs (Cleveland County), $500,000 to purchase downtown land; Greensboro (Guilford County), $3 million to purchase firefighting equipment; King (Stokes and Forsyth counties), $3.7 million to replace a sewer pump station; Leland (Brunswick County), $8 million to enhance Founders Park; Mebane (Alamance County), $6 million to build a 1-million gallon water storage tank; and Nashville (Nash County), $3.2 million to build a second fire station on leased land, and $300,000 for the same purpose.

   Email: press@nctreasurer.com
   Phone: (919) 814-3820
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