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Proponents and opponents of a bond proposal for renovations at CCCC both sent emails ahead of a public hearing on the issue scheduled for tonight, urging their side to come out and speak their position to Lee County commissioners.

One email, sent by local Americans for Prosperity activist Lloyd Jennings but signed by someone named “Jim,” urged taxpayers should attend tonight’s meeting and speak against the $23 million in bonds, which would expand the college’s civic center and veterinary medicine building, fund the development of a small business incubator, and make other improvements.

Jennings/Jim then supplied some “talking points” for those wishing to speak. Among them are claims that the bond will cause the county’s tax rate to increase by 7 to 10 cents, the proposed creation of a business incubator is 
“questionable” as an economic development tool, and that the college’s veterinary tech program hasn’t justified any upgrades to its facilities.

Jennings/Jim closed the email by asking folks to also consider bringing their children to speak against the CCCC bonds, since “there are no time limits or age limits.”

Not long after, CCCC Trustee and former Lee County Commissioner Jamie Kelly forwarded the e-mail from Jennings/Jim, saying that it was authored by current Commissioner Jim Womack and pushing back against some of the claims therein, specifically Womack’s claims about the tax implications.

There are many untruths in this email,” Kelly wrote. “The truth is based on the own county’s numbers … that a max of 3 pennies if all projects were started at one time would the impact be. In reality if the projects were stretched over a five year period the tax implications could be nothing at all as we have debt rolling off. Another point to note is none of the current county debt is CCCC debt.”

Kelly also countered the claim that the vet tech program had not justified an expansion of its facilities.

Truth is our accrediting agency SACS is requiring us to make these updates or it puts our program in jeopardy of losing accreditation. CCCCs Vet Tech program is one of the top in the country and is highly acclaimed,” he wrote.

The full email

From: Lloyd Jennings <eljennings@windstream.net>
Date: July 20, 2014 at 10:42:43 PM EDT
To: Undisclosed Recipient <eljennings@windstream.net>
Subject: Fw: Public Hearing on CCCC Bonds at Commissioner’s Hearing Tomorrow Night

All;

The Lee County Board of Commissioners has its only July meeting on Monday night (July 21) at 6PM.  During this meeting there will be a public hearing on the bond referendum for four CCCC bonds – required by law to be held before we vote to put the four bonds on the ballot for this fall.  This is the only opportunity the public will have to sound off (with no time actual limits) on the subject of these bonds and the fact that county taxes MUST be raised to finance these bonds. 

I strongly encourage addressees to come to the meeting tomorrow night and speak out on these bonds.  The Herald quoted Charlie Parks as predicting there will be more citizens speaking in favor do the bonds tomorrow than against them.  I’d like to think that on some of these bonds there would be more speaking out against them- like the Civic Center upgrades and the Vet Tech Training Center, neither of which have been even marginally justified as being worth the cost to our taxpayers. 

The public hearing likely will occur by 6:10PM and will be over no later than 7:00PM if Charlie doesn’t let it slide too late in the agenda and manages the speakers effectively (keep your fingers crossed).   Here are some talking points on these bonds:

      1. Total value of the bonds is $23M if all four are approved by voters- which would cause the county tax rate to rise as much as 7-10 cents (more than 10%).
      2. The advertisements being proposed for the Herald do NOT tell the voters what will happen to their taxes- which is disingenuous, even misleading.  Other counties tell their voters more information than this (Cabarrus County recently assured their voters they would NOT raise taxes  for the school bond they were voting on- instead that they would reduce spending!  Why can’t we promise that to our voters!?!?).
      3. The proposed $5M bond for the Civic Center and the business incubator is NOT an educational requirement of the community college.  It is also not a constitutional requirement and one can argue it is even a questionable economic development requirement.  The Civic Center  isn’t something that Harnett County, Moore County, Chatham County, or any other county in this state with a population of under a 100,000 people has sought to build and manage.  Why in the world are we now asking our taxpayers to shoulder the burden of expanding this facility that already loses over a quarter of a million dollars a year in maintenance costs alone???
      4. The Vet Tech building renovation has not been justified.  Very few students from Lee County attend this program.  Most technicians in this program are from out of county and out of state.  Yet, our taxpayers foot 100% of the multi-million dollar bill for the facility and its upkeep.    Why not let Chatham County or Harnett County take the Vet Tech program on?  According to the Lee County web site for CCCC, Lee County already is hosting 27 academic programs at our campus, while Chatham only hosts 11 programs, Harnett hosts 17 programs, and 11 programs are available through distance learning.  The tax base of Chatham is a lot better suited to support building that kind of facility and the large livestock population of that county would seem to be a better fit for the Vet Tech program anyway.
      5. The top priority for capital construction in Lee County right now (and our only constitutionally required capital project we have projected) is a new elementary school; and possibly two new elementary schools, depending on whether we choose to eliminate all our modular units and build in anticipation of future growth.    Yet, there are no elementary schools being proposed for the ballot this fall.  WHY IS THAT?  Are we trying to fool the voters into thinking CCCC building programs are more important than elementary schools, or that we don’t have over-crowding problems in our K-12 facilities?  Not one CCCC building ought to be built until every K-12 student is properly housed- if we are meeting our constitutional obligations.
      6. Who is going to tell the voters of Sanford and Lee County just how much their taxes are going to go up – in total – when the city of Sanford gets done monkeying around with their taxes??  Just think- the citizens of Sanford and Lee Countyjust got their property tax bills for next year in which taxes went up because of some of the City’s bonds.  The city is raising its tax rate for the  next fiscal year, even though we just finished a reval and its rate should have dropped two or three cents.  By the time the city gets done raising taxes, these CCCC bonds go into effect, and the school bonds get introduced in the next year or so, we could be seeing a 25%-30% increase in local taxes inside the city of Sanford.  And that impact to the budgets of our fixed income seniors is on top of all the crazy healthcare cost increases, and inflated costs they’re seeing on food, gasoline and everything else.

Please come out and speak your mind on these bonds tomorrow.  We need to hear from concerned citizens about the possible waste of money.  Otherwise it’ll be the same old good old boys and girls telling us to tax and spend with no concern for the taxpayers wallets.

Feel free to bring kids, friends, and anyone else to speak as well.  There are no time limits or age limits.  You know Keith Clark will be there and loaded with ridiculous assertions as usual.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can find the time to come and speak.

Best/

Jim

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