Central office to take center stage at City Council meeting, but agenda includes other public hearings
SALISBURY — While the public hearing on the controversial school central office is expected to take the most time and attention on Tuesday, City Council members do have other items on their 4 p.m. agenda in City Hall.
First, the council will hold the public hearing on proposed funding to construct the central office at 329 S. Main St. The city is considering borrowing $8.37 million on behalf of the Rowan-Salisbury School System to construct the 62,000-square-foot office building.
“One of the critical parts of this feasibility is the ability to secure financing at a reasonable rate,” Assistant City Manager John Sofley wrote in a memo to City Council.
The estimated interest rate range is between 2.5 percent and 3.75 percent. The school board would pay back the city over 20 years with annual payments of between $560,000 and $620,000.
Council members have approved a lease-purchase resolution to begin the process. The public hearing is the next required step in the financing process.
Before the city can borrow the money, the state’s Local Government Commission would have to approve the deal. There is some confusion about whether the LGC would require the Rowan County commissioners to approve the lease between the city and school system. City and school officials say they don’t need the county’s blessing.
A majority of commissioners said months ago they didn’t want the central office to go downtown, but after the city offered to consider funding the entire project, several commissioners said they had washed their hands of the building.
Also on Tuesday, City Council will:
• Hold a public hearing and consider amending the city’s sign ordinance regarding political signs. The amendment would match city regulations to new state laws to avoid confusion about when and where people running for office can post signs in Salisbury.
The amendment also would allow larger political signs — six square feet up from five square feet — to match state law.
The Salisbury Planning Board considered this petition June 25 and voted unanimously to recommend approval to City Council. This is a portion of a larger amendment to the sign ordinance, but the remaining changes related to electronic signs will come at a later date.
• Hold a public hearing and consider rezoning 2910 S. Main St., owned by Connolly Julian Properties LLC, from corridor mixed-use to highway business as part of an expansion plan for Lazy 5 Animal Hospital.
• Consider adopting a resolution supporting the “yarn-forward” rule in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement.
County commission Chairman Jim Sides asked all Rowan municipalities to consider supporting the resolution, which calls on Congress to require textile production steps like yarn spinning and fabric formation to take place in the Trans-Pacific Partnership region in order to get trade preferences.
• Receive public comments.
• Hear from City Manager Doug Paris, including street closures for a downtown criterium bike race on Aug. 1 and a circuit bike race around City Park on Aug. 4.
• Recess until 10 a.m. July 30 at City Hall, 217 S. Main St., when council members will take up the school central office again and consider adopting a resolution of findings of fact for financing, as well as consider awarding a financing bid.
The central office project timeline then calls for the city on Aug. 5 to submit an application for financing to the Local Government Commission. The city hopes the LGC will approve the debt financing on Sept. 3, when City Council would approve construction bids.
If the project moves forward, the city plans to close financing on Sept. 20 and start construction, with the school system taking possession of the new building in October 2014.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.