• By Todd Luck
  • Posted Tuesday, April 11, 2023

County Commissioners to vote on bonds to help with school capital projects

Forsyth County Commissioners have taken steps to provide an additional $77.7 million to Winston-Salem Forsyth/County Schools to help with capital projects without raising the county property tax rate.

WS/FC Schools is experiencing escalating construction costs for its 2016 school bond projects due to inflation. The school system estimates it would take an additional $80-82 million to complete the bond projects.

County Commissioners have taken action towards using its remaining debt capacity to provide $77.7 million to help fill that gap with no property tax rate increase. The $77.7 million consists of $21.4 million generated from selling unissued bonds approved as part of the 2016 referendum and $56.3 million in newly issued two-thirds bonds. State general statutes allows local governments to issue two-thirds bonds, which is debt that can be issued without a referendum by a local government that is equal to two-thirds of the debt retired in the last fiscal year.

On March 30, Forsyth County Commissioners approved the applications to sell the two-thirds bonds. On April 20, a public hearing will be held on the bonds and commissioners will vote on approval of the two-thirds bonds. If approved, the two-thirds bonds will be sold on May 23 along with the remaining unissued bonds from the 2016 referendum and the county will receive the full proceeds on June 13 and 14.

The tumultuous economy isn’t expected to impact this upcoming bond sale. The hikes in federal interest rates aren’t directly tied to the municipal bond market but can have some effect on it. However, the bond market is expected to remain steady over the next few weeks leading up to the sell.

The schools will receive the money in installments, which are estimated to be $38.2 million in 2023, $18.5 million in 2025, and $21 million in 2027.

The county’s current debt leveling plan for bonds approved as part of the 2006 and 2008 referendums is expected to be retired in 2029. That means the commissioners could place a bond referendum on the ballot in 2028 of up to $300 million without adding to the current property tax rate. This potential bond could be devoted to capital projects for WS/FC Schools or other types of capital projects.

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