Raleigh city leaders want to take out a bank loan to pay for the Dorothea Dix property, but doing so would deny residents the opportunity to vote on how to fund the project.
The state recently approved to sell the 300-acre property near downtown to Raleigh for $52 million. The city wants to put a park on the property where Dorothea Dix mental hospital used to stand.
Raleigh City Council took a look at three funding options at the budget meeting on Tuesday.
City leaders have recommended the third option, which is a 10-year bank loan.
The other two options include a 20-year general obligation bond or a 20-year limited obligation bond.
City officials prefer the bank loan option because it’s the easiest financing method, the fastest to close the property purchase and is an estimated $9-12 million savings over the other options.
With the bank loan option, the city could obtain a loan and complete the purchase by July of this year. A referendum vote would not take place until October and the property purchase wouldn’t be completed until early 2016.
“This kind of savings of $9-12 million over the other options is money that will be a great savings to the citizens and potentially something we can invest in the park itself,” said At-Large Councilor Russ Stephenson.
However, some councilors raised concerns about the lack of transparency with the bank loan option, saying residents should have the opportunity to vote on how to fund the process.
“When I vote against this today, it’s not a reflection on my belief of Dix, it’s just my concern that I do believe that this should be brought to the voters,” said District A Councilor
A decision was not made on Tuesday, but Council approved a public hearing scheduled for June 2 to allow residents to weigh in on how the city should pay for the property.
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