Skip to Main Content

Speaking Out: It's a bond to future generations 

by League President and Elkin Mayor Lestine Hutchens

When government at any level invests in infrastructure – in the roads, public buildings, public meeting and play spaces, water and sewer lines – it is, to some degree, about the here and now. We need safe roads and bridges to get us to work, to keep us connected, and to get goods to market. A growing population demands new school buildings, and government buildings of all types are required for a government workforce to carry out so many service functions for citizens. Creating and maintaining parks and other cultural amenities is crucial for the quality of life that North Carolinians so cherish. Water and sewer treatment facilities keep water clean and are vital to public health.

We also hope that significant public investments spur quick business activity that benefits everyone with jobs and economic opportunity. Those can all be immediate benefits that citizens see relatively soon after these types of projects are on line. Substantial public investments, though, are often made to last beyond one generation and one lifetime. That is particularly the case when they take place as part of major bond plans.

In that regard, these investments really are one generation’s commitment to another. It’s a sort of a promise that we will leave the things in our charge in at least as good a shape as we found them. For major investments, it makes sense to every so often borrow money as long as it goes for sound, reasonable purposes that will serve current and future generations.

On March 15, voters across North Carolina will go to the polls to decide a $2 billion bond package. It will mark the first time that a general obligation bond has gone before statewide voters since 2000. The $2 billion will be used for a variety of investments, including university and community college building and renovation. For local governments, there will be a needed $310 million infusion of dollars for local water and sewer projects. Because $210 million of that money will go into revolving loan pools, it will generate double the investment over two decades.

There is also $3 million that will go toward upgrading local parks, through competitive grants, to help improve access to park facilities for disabled children and disabled veterans. I am also excited about $75 million that will help build new facilities or improve existing ones at our state parks. At Stone Mountain State Park near my town of Elkin, $1.3 million will go to improvements to the visitor center. Our state parks are vital to our quality of life, but also help spur tourism, with those tourism dollars spilling over into the business in nearby towns and cities.

Back in October, I joined Governor McCrory at Stone Mountain State Park for one of the signing ceremonies held around the state for the Connect NC bonds. At that time, I noted that, just like a homeowner who invests in a good roof or fixes a crack in a foundation, we North Carolinians have to invest in our public infrastructure to keep the state as a whole sound and strong for both today and tomorrow. I also told my local newspaper then that I planned to work for the passage of the bond referendum. Since then, the League’s Executive Committee has passed a resolution in support. I hope you will join us in that support.