(The Center Square) – Wake County and the North Carolina Department of Transportation are poised to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars for construction and renovation.
The Local Government Commission unanimously approved Wake County’s plan Tuesday to borrow nearly $600 million for school and community college projects. The NCDOT also got unanimous approval to sell $300 million in bonds.
The NCDOT sought authorization for Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) bonds, which allows the state to finance projects based on funding it expects to receive from the federal Highway Trust Fund. The plan also was approved by the Council of State on Tuesday morning.
NCDOT Chief Financial Officer Stephanie King said the bonds approved Tuesday are the eighth GARVEE bonds issued in the state. The bonds have a total interest of 1.74% and bring the outstanding principal to $1.17 billion.
They would assist with the widening of Interstate 40, U.S. Route 321, Interstate 26 and U.S. Route 401 and projects on the Winston-Salem and Fayetteville Outer loops and U.S. 70 Havelock Bypass.
King said she expects the agency to close on the bonds by mid-September.
The NCDOT has faced scrutiny for overspending, leading to new restrictions and more oversight to review spending. North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell said Tuesday he saw improvement in funding management by the agency, including restoration of the state’s Highway Trust Fund.
Wake County officials said their $584 million financing agreement is needed to meet its growing school district population. The Wake County Public School System has an annual enrollment of more than 160,000 students.
The plan for new construction includes Felton Grove High School; Wood Creek, Hilltop Needmore and Rex Road elementary schools; and Fuquay Varina Middle School, among others. The county also plans to complete renovations, purchase equipment and upgrade technology.
The debt service for the bonds would be paid from the county’s Debt Service Fund (DSF). Currently, 18.57 cents of the ad valorem tax rate and certain sales tax, lottery and other miscellaneous revenues are dedicated to the DSF and capital expenditures.
The LGC also approved $171.9 million in bond anticipation notes for Wake County for community college projects. Bond anticipation notes are paid off at a later date with general obligation bonds.
A total of $16 million in financing was approved for various projects in Thomasville, Bevard, Ayden, Landis, Swepsonville and the village of Walnut Creek.
The LGC also approved $52.5 million in revenue bonds for water and sewer improvements in Johnston County, $50 million in general obligation bond anticipation notes for projects in Durham County and a $13 million loan requested by Wilson County to match lottery funds for school construction.