North Carolina Local Government Commission Files Guilford County School Bond Approval
Guilford County’s plan to take on $1.7 billion in additional debt hit a snag at the North Carolina Local Government Commission (LGC) meeting on Thursday, September 22.
Rather than endorse the $1.7 billion in school bonds passed by Guilford County voters in the May 26 primary election, the LGC filed the story and demanded more information.
The LGC, chaired by North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell, must approve debt issuance by local governments. It is the LGC’s responsibility to determine whether “the amount borrowed is adequate and reasonable for the projects and whether it is an amount that the unit can reasonably afford to repay,” according to the LGC’s website.
The North Carolina State Treasurer’s Department press release states, “However, LGC members had questions about the county taking on more debt, how it would be repaid, and whether the downward trends school enrollment justifies the need. A $300 million bond package was approved in 2020. While voters approved the $1.7 billion bond in May, they rejected a referendum to raise sales taxes to pay for it . The county plans to use property taxes instead. School officials said schools in some areas are overcrowded and are deteriorating badly. In filing the case, the commission ordered county officials to respond within 10 days with enrollment numbers.
The press release notes that the $1.7 billion is expected to be used “to build three new schools, demolish and rebuild 19 schools, completely renovate 12 schools, and invest approximately $363 million in safety and technology upgrades. . No tax increase is planned. The school system now has 126 schools and more than 300 buildings.
Enrollment in Guilford County schools has increased from 73,407 in 2015 to 69,580 in 2021. Enrollment figures are based on day 20 enrolment.
Nancy Hoffmann, a member of the Greensboro City Council, is a member of the LGC but did not attend the September 22 meeting.