05/07/14 — Read their lips: No new taxes

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Read their lips: No new taxes

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on May 7, 2014 1:46 PM

There will not be a tax increase to fund a new W.A. Foster Recreation Center and a renovated Herman Park.

There will not be a revenue source to construct a multi-sports complex in the foreseeable future.

In a vote that saw only 13 percent of the city's eligible voters cast ballots, the $18.9 million Goldsboro Parks and Recreation Bond was struck down Tuesday evening -- thanks largely, supporters of the measure say, to an anti-tax increase campaign launched by the local Republican Party.

And at least one advocate of the referendum is not happy about it.

Goldsboro City Council member Bill Broadaway said those who voted "no" dealt a blow to two key populations in the city.

"I just think what they did is they shortchanged a lot of kids and older adults in this town," he said. "And now we'll be behind other communities around us for the next 15 to 20 years."

"I'm not really surprised. When somebody puts as much money as the anti-tax people put into it -- and they put (signs) out illegally all over town in rights-of-way and everywhere else. They won, I hope they are happy because they won. It will take 20 years for the city to get these facilities we need now."

More than 54 percent of the votes were cast against the measure -- 1,622 votes -- to 45 percent -- 1,348 votes -- for it.

But unlike Broadaway, council member Chuck Allen has a different take on how things turned out.

Sure, the Republican Party "muddied the waters."

But it was the proposed location of the new W.A. Foster, Allen said, that likely tipped the scales.

"I think some minorities didn't vote for it because of the location of W.A. Foster. In fact, I was told that. And it bothered me that people didn't want it because of where it was," he said, adding that he saw no reason for people to take that stance, as the city was, with or without the bond money, planning to follow through with its W.A. Foster plans.

"We had already told them we were gonna build the new W.A. Foster anyway so they had no reason to vote against it," he said.

Allen also said that he is not dismayed by the results at the polls.

"There is no doubt that we need a new W.A. Foster. I'm over the bond, but I definitely think we still need a new W.A. Foster," he said. "(And) I am gonna work as much as I can to say that we build those soccer fields. I'm looking at how to do both W.A. Foster and the soccer fields.

City Manager Scott Stevens has also turned his focus toward the future.

"We always said that we'd fund these projects either on a five-year plan or a 25-year plan," he said. "As debt drops off, we will fund these new projects until we get them all."

Stevens added that he remains confident the projects listed are priorities, specifically W.A. Foster, which is expected to be under way within a year.

Goldsboro Parks and Recreation Director Scott Barnard agreed -- but knows that progress costs money.

"The council said we're gonna move ahead with W.A. Foster anyway," Barnard said. "We'll have to deal with it the way we told folks we would. We'll do these projects as funds become available. I don't see a whole lot of increases in the Parks and Recreation side coming. With so many demands higher up the food chain, it will be a long time before there is that kind of money for parks."

Voting precincts in the northern part of Goldsboro voted overwhelmingly against the bond, while precincts in the heart of the city -- south of Ash Street -- voted in favor of it.

Repeated calls to two members of the council -- Michael Headen and William Goodman -- were not returned by press time.