Local Government Commission approves WHA’s proposed bonds for Starway Village

The Local Government Commission voted to approve the Wilmington Housing Authority’s proposed bonds for Starway Village and other agenda items at a meeting.
Published: Nov. 13, 2023 at 4:57 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2023 at 6:13 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Local Government Commission voted to approve the Wilmington Housing Authority’s proposed bonds for Starway Village and other agenda items at a meeting on Tuesday, Nov 14.

Commission members approved the Wilmington Housing Authority’s plan to issue bonds worth $23.5 million for Starway Village I and $13.6 million for Starway Village II. The proceeds would be loaned to Starway Village to buy, build and equip low-income, multifamily rental housing. Starway Village I includes 176 units and II includes 102. Both developments include units for disabled, homeless, or mobility-impaired people.

Then, the WHA is asking to loan the $20 million in bond proceeds to OAHS Tidewater LLC to acquire, build and equip a 104-unit multifamily housing development called Tidewater Townhomes.

The N.C. Housing Finance Agency was approved to issue $60 million in bonds to loan to Fitch Irick Portfolio to quire, rehabilitate, and furnish 24 separate multi-family housing developments with a total of 769 units, including some in Columbus County.

Both the Housing Finance Agency request and WHA request were approved unanimously without additional discussion by the board as part of the consent agenda.

The LGC discussed a resolution that would establish guidelines for local governments to appeal the LGC’s decisions regarding late financial audits.

“Tardy reports frustrate the LGC’s ability to carry out statutory financial oversight of local governments. Among other issues, late audits could jeopardize fiscal discipline, mask misappropriations and provide an unreliable picture of revenues and expenses when making budget decisions,” an LGC announcement states.

The goal of the resolution is to enforce the timely completion of audits by having the option to withhold a portion of sales tax revenue. The statute says that the commission sets the guidelines for a successful appeal and that if the guidelines are met, then the revenue won’t be withheld.

The resolution outlines that if a county or municipality only has one outstanding appeal, then that would be the basis for a successful appeal. In this case, the counties/municipalities would have to appear before the LGC. About 70 units of government would need to appear under current rules, and the resolution would decrease that number to around 13.

“You’re opening up the door to say there’s no penalty if you’re one year behind,” said State Auditor Beth Wood.

Wood expressed that she found that it’s too lenient given that the LGC is required to approve it if the requirement is met, saying that municipalities and counties could stay behind one year indefinitely as long as they didn’t have multiple available audits. She proposed changing the proposal to only allow the successful appeal if the late audit in question was the only late audit from the municipality or county in the past five years.

Commissioners didn’t decide to adopt the resolution, instead intending to continue the discussion with different rules at its next meeting on Dec. 5.