HC Commissioners support Amendment One

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 30, 2004

WINTON – Hertford County’s Board of Commissioners took a bold step here last week in regards to attracting new business as well as redeveloping abandoned factories.

By adopting a resolution, the Commissioners unanimously agreed to support Amendment One, a state constitutional measure that will appear on the Nov. 2 General Election ballot. Its passage will allow local government bodies to authorize self-financing bonds, a vital tool when it comes to attracting new businesses.

Self-financing bonds are used to pay for public improvements in partnership with private investment within a designated development district. Projects can include streets, water and sewer service and sidewalks. The additional tax revenues from the increased property values in the district are used to pay off the bonds.

What makes this measure so important on the local level is that no tax increases on local citizens are necessary to pay back self-financing bonds.

&uot;An amendment to our state constitution is necessary in this situation in order to allow for a legally binding pledge of the additional property tax revenues as security for repayment of the bonds,&uot; said Bill Earley, Hertford County’s Economic Development Director.

Earley informed the Commissioners that unlike general obligation bonds, the taxing power of a town or a county will not be pledged, so there is no need for a referendum on each proposed bond package.

&uot;The Local Government Commission will oversee the issuance of self-financing bonds in a financially sound manner,&uot; noted Earley. &uot;There will be numerous other safeguards in place to ensure that these projects will be successful.&uot;

Self-financing bonds also can finance improvements for projects to re-develop abandoned factories and plants, to build new manufacturing plants, affordable housing, community revitalization, business incubators and commercial development. They are a tool that communities can choose – but are not required – to use. More than 95 percent of self-financing bonds have succeeded across the country.

North Carolina’s approach to these bonds is one of the most conservative in the country. All bonds must be approved by the State Local Government Commission. In more than 50 years, no local bond approved by the Commission has defaulted. In addition, limits will be placed on local governments’ use of this tool and a total of only five percent of a government’s jurisdiction can be in development districts.

&uot;In November, voters can take job creation and economic development into their own hands,&uot; said Leslie Bevacqua Coman, Steering Committee Chair for North Carolinians for Jobs and Progress. &uot;After rampant job losses and an economy that remains unstable, there is no better time for North Carolina to have this tool. It’s time to make it work for us.&uot;

Former North Carolina governors Jim Holshouser, Jim Martin and Jim Hunt are the honorary co-chairman of the Amendment One campaign across the state. The proposed measure has been endorsed by the North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry, the North Carolina Economic Developers Association, the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, North Carolina League of Municipalities, NC Metropolitan Coalition and the North Carolina Rural Center.

Currently, North Carolina and Arizona are the only two states in the nation that do not use self-financing bonds as a tool to attract new jobs and revitalize communities.