Commissioner give go ahead on Woodmoor Farms road repairs
By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
A plan to repair a subdivision’s streets for inclusion in the state road system moved forward on Monday after the Pitt County Board of Commissioners voted 8-1 to approve the project.
The vote came after several homeowners in Woodmoor Farms subdivision, located of N.C. 43 east of Greenville, expressed support for the repairs but unhappiness that they are having to pay an interest fee that was not part of the first project funded by the board.
“It’s a burden on us; we have two kids in college, but it has to be done,” Trotters Way resident Bobby Hopkins said.
“It’s a very fine neighborhood that is very community minded,” said Trails End resident Lenn Jackson, one of Woodmoor Farms’ first homeowners. A home is the great investment most people make in their lives, he said, and people must do what they have to do to protect the investment.
Riley Roberts, another Trails End resident, is happy to live in a neighborhood where his children can safely ride their bicycles.
“We take pride in our neighborhood and want to keep things looking nice,” he said.
The commissioners established a program in 2013 in which the county would pay the upfront cost to repair streets of subdivisions located in unincorporated areas so they would be accepted into the state road system. Property owners repay the money through an assessment.
The commissioners launched the program because numerous streets in these subdivisions were falling into disrepair and homeowners couldn’t get the developers to fix them.
The first approved project, in Woodmoor subdivision which is next to Woodmoor Farms, was completed last year and property owners will receive the bill for their first payment in July.
The Woodmoor repairs cost $106,627 and were funded out of $220,000 the commissioners set aside for the project.
When Woodmoor Farms’ estimated costs came it at $680,000, County Manager Scott Elliott said it was not feasible to appropriate that amount from the county fund balance. He recommended borrowing money and having the property owners pay the interest along with the assessment. The commissioners agreed, and in March changed the program parameters to make property owners responsible for the interest payments.
All or part of five streets in Woodmoor Farms will be repaired, Planning Director James Rhodes said.
“There is a lot of extensive roadside drainage work that will have to be done,” Rhodes said, along with repairing the streets and installing a T-turnaround that the state transportation department is requiring.
The project’s total cost is $542,497 and the estimated the interest will be $144,844, bringing the total amount to $687,341. The 51 property owners will be assessed $13,477, with annual payments of $1,347 over a 10-year period.
Commissioner Tom Coulson asked if property owners who paid the assessed cost in full could avoid interest costs. Deputy County Manager/Chief Financial Officer Brian Barnett said the calculations did not include figures for one-time payments.
Trails End resident Bill Hofler asked why county staff did not apply the remaining $114,000 of the original appropriation for Woodmoor to his subdivision’s project. He also asked why the money being repaid by the neighboring subdivision’s residents could not be applied to the interest payments.
County Management Scott Elliott said not enough of the repayments will have been collected in time to make a difference on the Woodmoor Farms project.
Elliott said staff plans to bring a recommendation that the county seek a limited obligation bond later this year to fund additional school construction and a possible law enforcement center. Staff is considering adding the Woodmoor Farms project to that bond.
Commissioner Glen Webb said the commissioners should use fund balance to pay for the project so the residents do not have to pay interest and then end the program. Webb said it it becoming complicated and he worries legislators may use it to justify shifting the burden for maintaining some state road from the state to the county.
The other commissioners disagreed and voted to approve the final assessment resolution needed to undertake the repairs. Webb said he supported the project, but not the proposed financing, He cast the lone no vote.