2024 FAQs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

For more specific inquiries, you may submit questions to Cary 311
 
If citizens vote in favor of both bond financing issues on the November 5, 2024 ballot, Cary will have the authority to borrow up to $590 million in general obligation (GO) bonds over 7 years, with the ability to seek Council and State authority to extend that term to 10 years if necessary.

GO bonds are the fastest and least costly financing option available to Cary for these projects. Given Cary’s excellent credit rating and financial management, Cary can borrow money at low interest rates and issuance costs, thus saving Cary taxpayers millions of dollars over the repayment period.

Local governments often borrow money for large purchases, much like residents who take out loans to buy their homes. Cary is in excellent financial health, boasting the highest credit rating possible – ‘AAA’. Even so, Cary does not have enough cash available to pay for these important projects while still sustaining the high level of service our citizens expect, and maintaining fund-balance levels that are required by law and directed by the Cary Council.  In addition, financing these projects over 20 years allows future citizens, who will also benefit from the projects, to contribute to their payment.

No. The annual debt payment for the bonds decreases over time.

As of June 2024, public GO interest rates for issuing municipalities similar to Cary with a ‘AAA’ rating is 3.50% for 20 years. The other type of financing that Cary could consider for the proposed 2024 bond projects—Limited Obligation bonds (asset-backed debt)—would carry a higher interest rate of 3.75% and does not require voter approval.

Cary’s general fund debt service for FY24 was $24.0 million.

If $590 million in general obligation debt is approved, Cary’s property tax rate will increase by 9 cents. This increase will happen when the debt is issued and will be used for debt repayment. The current plan, which is subject to change, is 3 cents in 2026, 3 more in 2028, and 3 more in 2030 (calendar years).

Note, the 9 cent increase will not cover the operating costs of the proposed new facilities. These costs will likely be paid for through additional property tax increases.

Maybe. Council sets the tax rate each year, and it can increase, decrease, or stay the same regardless of whether voters approve the bonds.

This chart shows the current anticipated property tax rates as of June 2024, with Cary’s continuing to be the lowest.

This chart shows the current anticipated property tax rates as of June 2024, with Cary’s continuing to be the lowest

Yes. There will be two separate Cary bonds ballot questions: 1) Parks and Recreation Bond; and 2) Housing Bond. Each bond will pass or fail on its own. Therefore, a voter does not have to vote “yes” to both portions in order to vote in favor of the other one.

Cary has used bonds since the early 1900s.

  • 1913: Citizens approved $25,000 in bonds to replace wooden Cary High School with a modern brick structure.

  • 1981: Citizens approved a $20 million bond for Cary’s independent water system, breaking from reliance on Raleigh.

  • 1986: $27 million bond allocated— $5 million for water, $17 million for wastewater, and $5 million for streets.

  • 1994: Approved projects included $9.075 million for wastewater and $9.425 million for parks.

  • 1999: Cary Community Bonds included $10 million for parks, $66.5 million for the water system, and $62.6 million for streets and sidewalks, without a tax increase.

  • 2003: A $160 million bond encompassed $130 million for parks and $30 million for streets, with no tax increase.

  • 2005: Clean Water Bonds worth $120 million directed $110 million to wastewater facilities and $10 million to open space initiatives.

  • 2012: Community Investment Bonds totaling $80 million total, with $57.68 million for transportation, $15.87 million for parks, and $6.45 million for fire services. This led to a 2-cent tax increase in 2013 and another 2 cents in 2015, totaling 4 cents.

  • 2019: Shaping Cary’s Tomorrow Bonds totaling $225 million, with $113 million in transportation projects and $112 million in parks projects.

Work could begin almost immediately, whether that entails land purchases or hiring project planners and architects.

While it’s not possible for us to predict what future interest rates will be, we can say that if Cary were to sell general obligation bonds this fall, we would expect the average interest rate to be more than 3 percent but less than 5 percent based on market conditions entering the summer of 2024.

Cary expects that bond raters will view Cary’s debt levels as manageable, given Cary’s financial position, additional tax revenue to support debt service, and Cary’s continued, proactive attention to planning for and managing growth and community needs. As of June 2024, Cary was rated AAA by Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investor Service, and Standard and Poor’s.

These projects will not move forward until or unless this or a future bond referendum passes.

No. The bond vote is a vote on whether Cary may specifically use general obligation bond financing; it is not a vote on the property tax rate. Each June, as part of the annual budget process, the Council votes on whether to raise, lower, or hold the property tax rate steady depending on the amount of revenues the Council believes is necessary to meet its capital and operational needs.

If the bonds are approved by voters, the debt will be paid back using property tax revenues.

None of the proposed projects are expected to generate revenue to a level that will fully recover operating costs.

In our continuing effort to implement the Imagine Cary Community Plan, the Town determined that housing along with parks and recreation-based community projects were the appropriate next steps for the 2024 election. Under NC law, the housing bond and the community projects bonds will be separate items on the November ballot, and citizens will vote for or against each separately.

The projects are intended to benefit everyone who lives, does business in, and enjoys Cary.

No. Under NC law, Cary – along with all other cities and towns – must hire the “lowest responsive responsible” company on projects requiring public bidding, whether that company is in Cary or not. That said, and where allowed under the law, Cary enjoys working with numerous local companies whenever we can.

As we have with previous bond referendums, the Town decided to package several community projects together as opposed to listing each as a separate ballot item to vote for or against because we see these initiatives as working together as the next generational milestone in Cary’s future. Some citizens will naturally gravitate toward some projects while some citizens may prefer others, but as a group, the Town views the package as meeting the needs and desires of as many citizens as possible. Under NC law, the housing bond and the community projects bonds will be separate items on the November ballot, and citizens will vote for or against each separately.

The Cary Town Council always has the option to supplement the bond funding with revenues from other sources including public/private grants as well as Town funds that might be available at the time.

Yes. More facilities, amenities, and services cannot be realized with the same or less funding or support resources. Where possible, the projects plan for those needs. The proposed community centers and Cary Tennis Park expansion each includes additional structured parking in the project funding, for example.

Yes and no – it depends on your perspective. By implementing Cary citizens’ vision and values as expressed in the Imagine Cary Community Plan, Cary will continue to be an ever-evolving, thriving community for generations to come, which can translate into higher property values and an increase in the value of the personal investment citizens have made in their land, homes, and businesses. On the other hand, citizens’ personal investments will lose value if the community falls behind its peers. With all of that in mind and for nearly 30 years, Cary’s property tax rate has consistently been the lowest of any city or town in Wake County, even after previous bond approvals.

Yes. Each project has a direct tie to the vision and values of the thousands of Cary citizens who helped develop and keep updated the Imagine Cary Community Plan. Just like Koka Booth Amphitheatre, WakeMed Soccer Park, the three existing community centers, dozens of parks, and nearly 90 miles of trails and greenways, the proposed 2024 bond projects have Cary citizens as their primary beneficiaries. And the housing bond helps ensure that people from all income levels are part of Cary’s rich and diverse fabric.