GARNER — At the Oct. 7 council meeting, Garner’s leaders discussed borrowing more money than initially budgeted for the town police station in the first round of bond sales after a March referendum. It also debated the merit of shifting some of the borrowing to the second of four sales (over the next six years) and using some reserves in their place.
Davenport & Co., which is working with the town to plan bond financing, made multiple recommendations to staff, some of which were scrutinized by town leaders in their absence. The advisers will visit the council at next week’s meeting.
The potential cost overrun for the police station came to light in August when the town agreed to allow ADW to begin design work on plans initially estimated to result in a $4.76 million project. To account for potential cost increases, the town plans to borrow $4.9 million for the project.
That gap continues to rankle council members worried about the rest of that $12 million being enough to build a new town hall facility. The town can’t pull from other bonds to fill cost increases; only reserves can fill holes. Staff tried to dampen those concerns.
“We’re not necessarily putting in an extra $400,000. That’s a very early estimate and includes a lot of contingency,” finance director Emily Lucas told elected officials. “We’re trying to take a preventative measure to make sure we have this money on hand should we need it.”
Davenport also recommended staff reduce the borrowing total by $3 million, use reserves for the difference, and then borrow an extra $3 million down the line to repay reserves. That would eliminate interest payments on that $3 million and leave the town enough cash on hand to handle bond and operational responsibilities.
The company also recommended the bond sale be moved up six weeks, from January into December, to take advantage of low interest rates.
The town has a date penciled in with the Local Government Commission – a state agency that oversees towns’ debt loads – on Dec. 10, but Lucas said the total amount would have to be submitted Nov. 4.
Sign/height limit changes to planning: The town referred to the Planning Commission a request from Core Properties to approve sign and building height adjustments to town rules for the White Oak development after no one spoke at a public hearing.
For properties of over 300,000 square feet and with at least three frontage streets, signage could include a 140-square-foot sign, a 125-square-foot sign, and a 96-square-foot sign, as well as a low retaining-wall sign of 66 square feet. The three signs would max out in height at 15 feet, 12 feet, and 6 feet.
The height rule would allow an 85-foot-high hotel built on the first 100 feet of a property, replacing a 75-foot limit. The planned hotel will be aroundseven stories.
Planning director Brad Bass said the adjustments were minor, and that in terms of signage, Garner “tends to fall in the midway point.”
“We believe this to be a reasonable request,” Bass said.
Two tracts annexed: Garner annexed a section of White Deer Park and a tract of land to be developed near East Timber Drive and New Rand Road.
The town needs the property to be part of the bond-funded project that will build a sidewalk linking the Lakemoor neighborhood to the greenways.
The planned Timber Spring retirement community is being built on a slim tract of land bordering Timber Drive at the intersection of New Rand, just south of the Bainbridge subdivision.
Town settles with Mattress Firm: After suing a local Mattress Firm over its temporary signage, the town has settled with the company for $7,500.
The council approved execution of the agreement, received by the town the same day as the meeting. The fine must be paid in 30 days. The company has also agreed not to violate the town’s signage ordinance again.
Greenfield permit approved: Council members approved a permit for new office and warehouse construction in the White Oak Business Park.
Wake PMC LLC builds staircases – mostly residential for large-tract builders – as well as exterior home products, and plans a 25,000-square-foot building 27 feet tall in the industrial neighborhood at 201 Hein Drive. The planning commission had unanimously voted to advise approval of the conditional-use permit.
Veterans Advisory Committee established: With the Veterans Memorial completed, the town established a new Veterans Advisory Committee, a veteran-based committee that would effectively replace the nonprofit Veterans Memorial Committee.
The new committee will advise the council on veteran-related issues, oversee veterans events and maintenance of the Memorial. A majority of the committee must be honorably discharged service members.
Collecting nuisance fees: The town will attempt to collect roughly $19,000 in abatement nuisance fees through the Wake County Tax Collector as property taxes.
Dozens of properties are listed on the agenda as owing between $71 and more than $5,000 for various types of fees. The fees are typically filed with the Clerk of Court, but the town hopes to make collection more efficient through the unanimously passed ordinance.
Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter: @garnercleveland