County Assigns Meals Tax Funding to Green Square Project

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Wake County is holding up its end of the funding bargain for the Green Square project, agreeing Monday to pay out $2 million during the next several years.

Green Square is being built on Jones Street between McDowell and Salisbury streets.

The project includes an expansion of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, with a connecting bridge to the current facility. The building also provides office space for 640 Department of Environmental and Natural Resources employees, and an underground parking deck with 426 parking spaces and a new State Employees Credit Union headquarters with connecting bridge.

An artist's rendering of the Green Square project.

Developers aim to position the project for a minimum of LEED Gold certification. The entire project is scheduled for completion by the end of the year.

Wake County and the City of Raleigh previously donated $6 million to the project, with plans for an additional $4 million. Originally, the entire building was going to be private and would later be subject to property tax dollars. However, the project has changed and now the museum portion will be publicly funded.

Wake County Manager David Cook proposed using the county’s prepared food and beverage occupancy tax revenues for the county’s $2 million. He said the county receives about $1 million annually through the tax, which state law dictates must be used for tourism projects.

Cook used the county’s tax increment financing formula to cap the annual donation figure, but assured commission members that property tax dollars would not be used. Tax increment financing (TIF) is a way to spend future gains in taxes to finance current improvements.

The county will donate $80,000 to $100,000 per year, paid for 20 years or more to make up the $2 million owed.

Commissioner Stan Norwalk inquired about the financing, double-checking the funding source.

“I’m not a big fan of tax increment financing,” he said. “Whatever the city of Raleigh wants to do that’s their business, but I’m glad we’re going with the meals tax.”

In September, Raleigh agreed to pay $93,000 annually for its half of the $4 million. The city will use grant funding to pay for the project.

 

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