INDIAN TRAIL – Locals are voicing their concerns and support over Indian Trail’s attempt to get $8.5 million in park bonds approved on Tuesday.
The money, if approved by voters, would go to pay for the construction of two parks and would be paid off over time, according to town officials, by a portion of this summer’s tax increase-funded capital reserve fund. See park designs and more at the town’s website, www.indiantrail.org.
Here’s what some locals are saying about the bond.
Locals in support of the park bond
• I would like to state why I support the park bonds for Indian Trail. I believe we live in a wonderful community where hard working people deserve the opportunity to enjoy beautiful parks. I want to see our families, our children and grandchildren and our pets enjoy the parks now. Let’s not wait until our children are adults and can only remember a childhood without parks.
When voting, here are some important facts about Indian Trail and the parks for you to consider.
• Indian Trail is the largest city in Union County with 35,000 people. We have the lowest taxes of any town in North Carolina with 20,000 people: 18.5 cents per $100 property tax.
• There will be no additional tax increase for residents to build these parks. The bond will be paid for with a capital reserve fund allocated by the town council.
• Parks are attractive to economic development, which in turn broadens the town’s tax base.
• We can expect our home values to rise significantly.
• Parks will draw families to our town.
• The safety of our parks will be a priority. The town council will work with our sheriff’s office to make our parks safe. I have had several meetings with Sheriff Coble and I believe we will have a great partnership.
• Our parks will be enjoyed by both young and old.
• Some of the amenities planned include more than 5 miles of walking, running and biking trails, playgrounds, three dog parks, pavilions with lakes and picnic areas, a water park and fields for football, baseball, soccer and lacrosse.
• Now is the time to build our parks. The cost to build will never be cheaper.
Let’s make our town an even better place to live and play. Vote Yes on Nov. 6. For more information, Facebook or Google Indian Trail Citizens for a Healthy and Vibrant Community or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Pro Tem David Cohn
• As business owners in the town of Indian Trail, we are firmly in favor of the park referendum. The two signature parks that are being proposed will provide a park experience that can be enjoyed by every resident of Indian Trail.
Along with offering much-needed recreation areas for the residents, the parks also will provide venues for multiple sports and civic events. These destination events will attract visitors from around the region and nation who will spend money locally, helping area businesses like hotels, restaurants, retail establishments and others.
We have traveled all across the United States and have been fortunate to visit dozens of cities, which have embraced these dual role signature parks. Overwhelmingly, the response we hear from residents and business people is the same: it is a winning combination.
Please join us in voting Yes to the park bond referendum for Indian Trail.
Ron Esser, president of Carolina Courts
Scott Chitwood, executive vice president of Carolina Courts
• Indian Trail has grown from approximately 2,000 in 1990 to 33,500 in 2000 and the need for community parks (50 acres or more) has grown with the increase in the number of residents.
Community parks are needed in Indian Trail now because:
• Current accommodations for local sports are bursting at the seams. Our athletic associations representing hundreds of students require additional space for soccer, football, baseball and other sports;
• Parks provide places with activities and facilities for parents, children and adults of all ages;
• They are a good investment. Parks enhance real property values and attract new homebuyers; and
• We need to remain competitive. Neighboring communities like Stallings, Matthews, Wesley Chapel and others are building or improving parks seeking to gain an advantage for their towns to attract business and promote tourism.
Our elected officials have kept taxes low. Indian Trail has the lowest taxes of any town with more than 20,000 citizens in North Carolina. The town is in the fiscal position to take advantage of a depressed economy to obtain park properties at good prices and develop it for our residents now for all of us to enjoy, not 20 years into the future. I urge you to vote yes on the park bond.
Roger J. Fish
Chairman, Indian Trail Parks, Trees and Greenway Committee
• Next week, we will have the opportunity to vote for an $8.5 million community parks bond referendum. Construction would begin as soon as possible in 2013. The town council expects that there would be no additional tax increase for residents if the parks bond is approved.
Residents would benefit from the new parks with access to new amenities like playgrounds, picnic areas, walking trails and more. Businesses would benefit from the increased revenue brought in by people attending tournaments held in the new sports complexes.
Our goal at the ITBA is to be an effective, unified voice for businesses in Indian Trail. We serve as a liaison between town government and local business. All members of the ITBA voted unanimously to support this bond and urge all citizens to join us.
Vote Yes to the parks bond referendum Nov. 6.
President, Indian Trail Business Association
Locals against the park bond
• The Lie: Voting for the park bond will not cause your taxes to go up.
The Truth: Council raised your property taxes 27 percent this spring, allocated the monies from the tax increase to a capital improvement fund to pay for the park bond debt, and purchased 140 acres with debt before finding out if that is what you want. The tax increase was voted on despite a motion that was struck down to table it and allow for a public hearing. Voting for the park bond is voting for putting Indian Trail, a town that was debt free a few years ago, in debt to the tune of $8.5 million. Your taxes will increase again when they implement the $10 million and $7 million roads bonds passed last year. Of the $25.5 million in debt we could soon see, assuming the passage of the current proposal, only $7 million could be justified by fiscally conservative principles. This vote isn’t a choice between what some call “progress” vs. “stagnation.” It is a choice between fiscal irresponsibility vs. fiscal sanity. It is a fork in the Trail, so to speak. Either we will continue to be what attracted people to Indian Trail by keeping the low taxes, conservative spending, small government and the overall feeling of a nice “bedroom community,” or we will destroy what Indian Trail has been, and become what so many others are seeking to be. Becoming like other towns will mean having to operate more the way they do, and having the tax rates they have to support doing so.
The capital improvements fund can pay for the road bond debt service. Tell them to pay for roads with the capital improvements fund. Tell them no more tax increases by voting No!
Indian Trail Town Councilman
• The articles discussing the Indian Trail park bond includes a statement made by Town Manager Joe Fivas about the Town Council voting to not raise taxes if the park bond is passed. This, I feel, is a misleading statement for the following reasons:
• Current debt: In 2011, as a result of Indian Trail purchasing the 51 acres of land, the town, according to the 2011 Financial Report, was put into a debt of $2.6 million. In addition, the town residents voted in two bonds in 2011 totaling $17 million. Of that, $7 million is earmarked for infrastructure improvements and $10 million is to be used as part of the Monroe Bypass and widening of Old Monroe Road. This means, in total, going into the 2012 budget year, Indian Trail has a realized debt load of $19.6 million. The $2.6 million shortfall was eliminated with the recent 28 percent tax increase. Indian Trail Council then decided to move forward with purchasing the 147-acre parcel (at a cost of $9,000 per acre), leaving Indian Trail with a realized debt load of $18.3 million. If the park bond passes, this will increase the debt load to $26.8 million. This is an incredible amount of debt given the town’s budget is $12 million. And, since the property owners make up 74 percent of the tax revenue, the property owners will shoulder the majority of the debt, and, therefore, will shoulder more tax increases to pay the debt as demonstrated by the action of the council this year with a 28 percent increase.
Indian Trail cannot a) absorb more debt that will force another increase in taxes; b) continue to put infrastructure as a secondary priority to parks because businesses and residents are impacted daily with the traffic congestion; c) state with confidence and clarity that taxes won’t be raised as a result of the park bond because the town is not factoring in extraneous costs associated with parks; and d) cannot afford to lose any additional tax revenue because the town is already in a $20 million debt deficit.
There are more economically and financially responsible ways to build parks. And the town council and town officials should, instead of soliciting ideas about a park design, solicit ideas of how to, in a financially responsible way, build parks. Instead, council is behaving in a fiscally irresponsible way that will, ultimately, place a significant burden on taxpayers, resulting in our town no longer being a place of choice to live because of low taxes, but rather, a place to avoid. Let’s vote No this November and tell the town council and town officials to behave in a more economically responsible way.
The Committee for Voting Against the Indian Trail Park Bond
Find more at http://votenoitparkbond.com
• The choice is simple, vote No for the Park Referendum for Indian Trail.
Have all of your questions been answered truthfully by town staff for the cost for maintaining these park properties and for the security? Your taxes were raised by 27 percent earlier this year without public input to help pay for these parks, so do not be fooled there was no tax increase. Some $1.5 million also was spent for 140 acres of land for a park not yet approved. Why then the need for the $8.5 million for this upcoming bond? How much more of your hard-earned money will be needed for taxes? Voters can you afford to have your taxes increased even more in this bad economy? Will you still have a job next year? These parks can wait another few years; there is no hurry!