Municipal Recreation Complex Bond Referendum Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the Bond Referendum?
A: The Bond Referendum is a question on the ballot in the November election that authorizes Travelers Rest City Council to issue debt in the form of General Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $6 million dollars.
Q: How will the money be used?
A: The money will be used to pay for property improvements and buildings associated with a new Municipal Recreation Complex for the city. The Complex includes a new City Hall, new Fire Station, gymnasium, outdoor amphitheater, two football/soccer fields, four baseball/softball fields, tennis courts, a walking trail, picnic shelters, parks, and a rest area for the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
Q: What if the city doesn’t need $6 million dollars to build the project?
A: The voters are authorizing a NOT TO EXCEED amount based on projected costs. If those costs are less, the city will borrow less money. Also, if the city is able to secure grants for portions of the project, less money will be borrowed. Currently the city has an application for grant funding for construction of the new fire station pending. If the grant funds are awarded the bond amount will be significantly reduced.
Q: How will the bonds be repaid?
A: General Obligation debt is repaid through ad valorem taxes, or what is known as bond millage. Bond (Debt) millage will be added to property tax notices in order to secure funding for annual payments. Based on the not to exceed amount, it is anticipated that a home assessed at $100,000 will pay approximately $100 a year more in taxes. If the total debt is less than projected, the repayment amount will be less. If a home’s tax assessed value is less than $100,000, the annual tax is lower. If a home’s assessed value is greater than $100,000, the annual tax is greater.
Q: What if I have Homestead Exemption?
A: Homestead Exemption lowers the assessed value on your home by $50,000. This lower assessed value is the amount upon which all property tax millage is based. Any new taxes would be based on the lower assessment, not the actual value of your home. Homestead Exemption keeps the tax burden off of elderly homeowners, even in the event of a millage increase.
Q: How long will it take to repay the debt?
A: The Debt Millage will be based on the actual amount needed for the project and the interest rate at the time the bonds are issued. Repayment can vary and the debt millage will come off of the tax bill upon repayment of the debt. IT IS NOT A PERMANENT TAX INCREASE.
Q: Can the city finance the project without the referendum?
A: City Council voted unanimously to place the bond referendum on the ballot, meaning that all of your elected officials believe strongly that this complex is essential to meet the needs of our community. City Council has carefully considered all options available for financing this project. City staff prepared and submitted an application for grant funds to build the fire station. Less than one percent of the applications submitted nationally will be funded. There are no grant funding sources for the other buildings and facilities. The only way to get the capital necessary to build these facilities is to ask the voters to pass the Bond Referendum. It is up to each individual voter to decide if he or she is willing to authorize City Council to borrow the capital to complete the project.
Q: Why does City Council want to build this complex now?
A: This is a major public works and municipal recreation project. The cost to build this project will only increase from year to year. There are several reasons why City Council felt that this was the optimal time to build the project.
• The old TRHS (Travelers Rest High School) property was offered for purchase by the Greenville County School District to the City of Travelers Rest.
• The buildings on the old TRHS site are unsafe, dilapidated, and blighted. Leaving the buildings there constitutes a public health and safety nuisance and will continue to lead to blighted conditions in that area.
• There are not enough playing fields to meet the needs of our youth who participate in organized sports. Often parents are driving long distances for their child to play football, baseball, softball or soccer, or children are forced to play at later times during the week to accommodate all of the participants. This is true for both practice and game schedules.
• The City of Travelers Rest has an opportunity to partner with the Greenville County Recreation District to operate and maintain the recreation facilities.
• A new Fire Station could potentially lead to an even lower ISO rating (fire rating) for City residents, thus lowering homeowner’s insurance costs.
• The park and all of its facilities are needed for every resident of the city who wishes to have adequate space for recreation. The park also includes tennis courts and walking trails that extend around the entire development. With the gymnasium, picnic shelters and playgrounds, there is something for everyone.
• City Hall is overcrowded and the City will have to either build a new facility and sell the current one, or expand its existing facility. Expansion is not a good option because there are developments on both sides of the current location on State Park Road.
Q: Are there other communities who have completed similar projects?
A: The City of Easley asked its residents to authorize the issuance of bonds to build its recreation complex. Like Travelers Rest, the City of Easley did not have facilities to accommodate the needs of its youth sports and activities. The referendum passed and Easley began building its complex almost immediately. The projects are similar in size and scope, and the average taxpayer obligation is about the same as expected in Travelers Rest. Easley now has a beautiful facility and has hosted countless events, including the Big League World Series.
Q: What will the city do with its current City Hall and Fire Station if new facilities are built?
A: The Fire Station on Poinsett will become a substation so that response times and availability will not be compromised. The City Hall building on State Park Road will be sold. Proceeds from that sale could be used to pay toward the bonded indebtedness in order to shorten the repayment time.
Q: Who can I call if I have questions?
A: Call Travelers Rest City Hall and speak with the city administrator. The number is 864.834.8740.