By Steve Reed
SELMA — Johnston County Commissioner Ted Godwin predicts the passage of two education bond referendums on the Nov. 6 ballot won’t affect property taxes.
Johnston County Public Schools is seeking a $61 million bond and Johnston Community College is seeking $15 million.
Schools Superintendent Ross Renfrow said Johnston County needs to build a new high school, a new elementary school and two new middle schools.
Johnston Community College President David Johnson said the college needs a building for early college and engineering students.
“I believe we can pay these back without a property tax increase,” said Godwin. “Johnston County hasn’t raised property taxes in 20 years. The current property tax rate is 78 cents.”
Godwin told those gathered at last Wednesday’s State of the Region luncheon that Johnston County unemployment has plunged below 4 percent.
“We continue to attract new businesses and industries here,” said Godwin. “We’re also recognizing existing businesses, too.”
Godwin also mentioned the new site for the proposed Johnston County Public Safety Center, which would house a new county jail.
The new location, U.S. Business 70 and Yelverton Grove Road, is just east of Interstate 95 in Smithfield next to East Coast Development.
The county paid $507,800 for the 25-acre site.
This is the second site the county has sought to purchase for the new public safety center. In November 2016, commissioners voted 4-3 to purchase 68 acres at 1680 Buffalo Road. But a public outcry prompted commissioners not to exercise their option on the site.
“We’ve got to do something,” said Godwin. “We’re currently housing prisoners in neighboring counties because we lack space.”
Godwin praised retired Tax Administrator Sheila Garner and her office for a 99.92 percent property tax collection rate.
“People in Johnston County have a strong work ethic and pay their bills,” said Godwin. “It’s the people of Johnston County that make this county great.”