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City receives approval for bond issue

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This artist's rendering depicts the proposed Downtown Community Facility.

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By Philip Sayblack
Staff Writer

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Local Government Commission on Friday approved the sale of special obligation bonds that will be used to finance the construction and equipping of the proposed Downtown Community Facility in a 5-2 vote, and the committee members weren’t the only ones split on the decision.

Members of The Community Council, a Rocky Mount nonprofit group, spoke before the commission about their concerns with the sale of the bonds. Lige Daughtridge, president of The Community Council, said the group’s decision to attend the meeting had been in the works for a long time.

“We knew from the beginning this would have to be fought at the Local Government Commission,” Daughtridge said.

He added the Community Council attended Friday’s meeting in Raleigh to request the commission delay its decision on the bonds by 60 days. 

“We were looking for a delay because within 60 days, we should know the impact that selling the bonds and building the center will have on the city when tax revaluations are done,” Daughtridge said. 

While he was unhappy with the committee’s decision,  Daughtridge said neither he nor the Community Council planned to pursue legal action.

“It’s disappointing the Local Government Commission didn’t delay its decision,” Daughtridge said. “We’ll have to accept it, move forward and hope for the best. We will continue to hold the city accountable for its operations and make sure it is as profitable as it has been advertised. Every citizen needs to get behind it now and make sure it’s profitable.”

Mayor David Combs attended Friday’s meeting, along with members of the City Council. He viewed the outcome of the meeting differently than Daughtridge but agreed the city needed to move forward rather than delay the project anymore.

“The City Council has been transparent about the Downtown Community Facility and the bonds the whole time,” Combs said. “From here, we need to move on. Delaying this any more will cost even more money. We hope people will get around it and support it.”

Combs said the council’s next step is to begin selling the special obligation bonds. He said that will begin next Tuesday, adding the council originally had planned to begin selling them next Thursday, but that was moved up. 

City Manager Charles Penny said the start date for the bond sales was moved up because the Local Government Commission had an earlier date available to start selling. He added he believes federal officials would meet on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss interest rates, so the decision was made to start selling bonds ahead of that meeting in case interest rates are raised at that meeting.

Penny said he expects bond sales to close Dec. 28. 

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