The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday February 4th

Bond Committee to Inform Local Voters

Local government officials, parents of school children, parks and recreation employees, and senior advisory committee members who make up the bond committee hope to educate voters about the referendum while remaining neutral on the issue.

At the meeting, County Manager John Link made several presentations about the financial shape of the county and the bond's projected tax impact and debt.

Members divided themselves into subcommittees for schools, parks, recreation and open space, senior centers, affordable housing, and information and outreach -- the main areas the bond would fund.

The job of the subcommittees is to organize bond information about their area of interest into an understandable format, such as brochures, videos or mailings, and to appoint public speakers to interact with community groups, said Rod Visser, assistant county manger.

"There is $15,000 in public funds set aside specifically for bond education," Visser said.

"So there is some money for this group to work with, as long as it's used for education and not advocacy."

Because public funds are being used for the group, committee members must keep any personal agendas regarding the bond referendum on the back burner.

Visser emphasized that being a committee member required completely objectivity when dealing with the bond issue.

"Factual information is a very important part of this, as opposed to an emotional attachment you may have to a particular issue," Visser said.

Members also were given the opportunity to share their own ideas for public presentations.

Some of the ideas presented included creating Web sites, handing out brochures at school fall festivals and ways to reach the area's fast-growing Hispanic population.

"I think it looks like dedicated people willing to do the work to educate the public," said Dabney Grinnan, a parent of four children in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

Grinnan said she heard of the committee through her involvement with several school organizations.

Mike Becker, another committee member, said he heard of the group in an Efland newspaper.

"I figure if I am going to complain about county government, I should be a part of it, and this looked like a good thing to be involved in," said Becker, a parent of two in Orange County Schools.

Officials said any interested residents still are welcome to join the committee.

Link said he is optimistic about the group's goals.

"I'm excited about this part of the process," he said.

"This is where we can go out and engage the public in these issues."

The City Editor can be reached at citydesk@unc.edu.

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