The Wake County (N.C.) school board had hoped to put a bond issue before voters this fall to begin addressing its massive facility needs, but county commissioners have decided to wait until May 2018 to schedule a referendum.
The Raleigh News & Observer reports that the Wake County Board of Commissioners has approved an ordinance that would provide the school system with $397 million in funding without putting a bond request on the ballot. That would enable the district to pay for the first two years of its $1.98 billion, seven-year construction plan.
The county commissioner's plan is to schedule a school bond referendum in May 2018 to provide $986 million for the next stage of the building program.
The county board had already decided to ask voters in November to approve a half-cent sales tax increase for transportation improvements, but commissioners said their decision to defer a school bond election had nothing to do with the sales tax proposal.
The seven-year construction plan for the steadily growing district calls for 14 new schools, 11 major renovations and other projects. Wake County had about 157,000 students in 2015-16.
Commissioners had briefly considered putting a school construction bond referendum on the ballot this November. But they decided that their plan to use a mix of limited-obligation bonds—borrowing that doesn’t require voter approval—and general-obligation bonds issued through a bond referendum is the right strategy.
May 2018 is the next date a referendum could be held after this November. A new state law says bond votes can be scheduled only during primaries and general elections in even-numbered years. Wake County voters last approved a bond issue—an $810 million proposal—in 2013.