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Forsyth seeks local state legislative delegations support on two issues

FORSYTH COUNTY — With Christmas just around the corner, even the Forsyth County commission has a wish list. 

During a work session Tuesday, commissioners voted 5-0 to ask the county’s state legislative delegation to support a couple of issues in the 2016 General Assembly, which is to begin in January.

“If county governing authorities want to make requests to the delegation to make legislative enactments, this is the time to do it,” said County Attorney Ken Jarrard.

The first request is for the state to reconsider the current law that prohibits school systems from collecting impact fees, or charges for new development that help cover the cost of increased demand on roads, infrastructure, services and amenities.

“It is a nonbinding, sort of an aspirational, request that the local delegation take up [for] the Board of Education to be able to assess impact fees,” Jarrard said.

Forsyth currently collects impact fees for parks, libraries and fire/E911, and has recently discussed adding them for roads.

Jarrard said that it would be a challenge to change the current state setup.

“That would require not only legislative changes, but likely a constitutional amendment,” he said. “Nonetheless, it [is] a request … that the local delegation take that up for consideration.”

The other matter deals with the county vehicle for funding construction of public facilities.

The public facility authority recently agreed to fund a new school that will focus on preparing students for high-demand, high-growth and high-wage occupations

“In the late summer/early fall, the [authority] took up the idea of participating with the [Forsyth County] Board of Education for perhaps issuing some revenue bonds debt for the purposes for a specialized school,” Jarrard explained.  

“It the position of my office, as well as a bond attorney [that] the PFA’s enabling legislation needs to be very clear that they can, in fact, do revenue bond transactions with the school district.”

In addition, the authority seeks a cap of $35 million for each building project approved. It previously had a lower cap, but that was removed after the group formed a few years ago.

Authority chairman Jerry Bowman said in September, when the school project was approved, that it would not be in the best interest of the community for the group to have unlimited bonding authority.