Highlights of the Aug. 21 2023, Board of Commissioners Meeting

Did you miss the Wake County Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Monday, Aug. 21? Here are the highlights:

  • Chair Shinica Thomas recognized Wake County Special Olympian Erin Cagle, who represented the United States in artistic gymnastics at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, Germany, in June. Cagle won a silver medal in vaulting, 5th place in balance beam and uneven bars, 7th place in floor exercises and 4th place in her division’s all-around gymnastics competition. She told the board that the event was “the experience of a lifetime!”

  • The Wake County Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board and staff presented the Board of Commissioners with a large ceremonial check for $17.5 million in revenue collected at ABC locations across the county in fiscal year 2023. Wake County ABC Board Member Lucius Jones noted that it was a highly successful year with $233 million in sales and the construction of a new North Hills location. Over the last five years, Wake County ABC locations have given $64.59 million to Wake County government, and an additional $36.2 million to the county’s 12 municipalities. Wake County uses much of the funding to support services for community members struggling with addiction. Residents can read more about the Wake ABC Board’s work online.

  • The Board of Commissioners proclaimed Aug. 21 National Senior Citizens Day in Wake County. Commissioner Don Mial read the proclamation, noting that Wake County has seen a population shift toward more seniors, with residents 65 and older accounting for 12 percent of the population, up 40% since 2011. It’s estimated that by 2029 Wake County will have more residents over age 65 than children under 18. Commissioner Mial also highlighted the volunteerism, charitable giving and sage wisdom seniors provide our community, before asking Poe Center Executive Director Ann Rollins to discuss some of the services Wake County provides to support seniors. Read the National Senior Citizens Day proclamation online.

  • On the consent agenda, the board accepted a grant that will make some Wake parks more accessible for cyclists with physical disabilities. The North Carolina Recreation and Parks Association awarded Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space with a diversity, equity & inclusion mini-grant of $3,000. In collaboration with NC Adapted Sports, Wake Parks will invest the funds in upgrading and widening trails and building wheelchair transfer stations at Lake Crabtree and Harris Lake County Parks. Read about the plans for the accessibility grant online.

  • The Board of Commissioners passed a new plan for county hospitality taxes that will upgrade PNC Arena, the Raleigh Convention Center and other local attractions. State law allows local government to collect taxes on hotel room occupancy and prepared food and beverages to be used on projects that support arts, culture, sports and conventions. Locally, Wake County and the City of Raleigh are responsible for determining tax rates and spending. Staff from both government organizations worked together and with stakeholders for a months-long process to review long-term plans, including revenue expectations, costs, and how to support both large, existing facilities and smaller municipal projects. With a unanimous vote, the board agreed to a new schedule of taxes — starting with 4% occupancy tax and 5% prepared food and beverage tax in 2024, with both decreasing in subsequent years — and the plans to use the proceeds, including:

    • $21.3 million annually would be used for upgrades to the PNC Arena, following the Carolina Hurricanes NHL team renewing their lease for 20 years. Improvements may include improved fan experiences, new dining options, outdoor spaces and more event space. Centennial Authority staff presented renderings of PNC Arena upgrade options to the board earlier this year.

    • $25.6 million annually to expand and improve the Raleigh Convention Center by adding 500,000 square feet, 30 new break-out rooms and large outdoor spaces. The project would also move downtown Raleigh’s Red Hat Amphitheatre a block down to accommodate the convention center's growth and improve the music and event venue’s features. Raleigh Convention Center staff presented renderings of both projects to the board in February.

    • $6 million annually to create an additional downtown Raleigh hotel and parking structure to support the expanded Raleigh Convention Center.

    • $5.35 million annually for a new Cary Indoor Sports Facility located in the South Mills Mall area that will feature 100,000 square feet of indoor competition space for sports like basketball, volleyball and esports.

    • $15.5 million over 4 years for a competitive funding process for smaller-scale projects in cities and towns across the county that will take place in late 2025.

      All commissioners present spoke about their excitement to expand and improve the area’s best attractions to strengthen Wake County’s spot as a destination community. The Raleigh City Council approved the same plan at its Aug. 15 meeting. With both elected bodies in agreement the proposed projects will move forward. More details about the hospitality tax plan and Wake County staff’s presentation are online.

  • The board approved Oaky Grove farm as the first property to be enrolled in Wake County’s new Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, which is part of the updated Wake County Farmland Preservation Ordinance, passed in June 2022. Oaky Grove farm, just off Turnipseed Road in eastern Wake County, is a 112-acre property of active prime farmland, including a portion farmed by Myanmar refugees who are preserving their cultural farming practices. Wake County partnered with the landowners, Talmage and Carol Brown, the Triangle Land Conservancy, which will hold and monitor the agreement, plus the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and North Carolina’s Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, each of which contributed roughly $500,000 toward the agreement. Wake County is contributing $400,000, or about 8% of the total cost of the easement, to ensure the land is protected in perpetuity as a historical and agricultural asset to the county. The staff presentation on the Oaky Grove property and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program are available online.

Want to dig deeper into the board meeting? The full recording of the meeting is available to watch online, with the meeting called to order at the 40:06 minute mark.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners’ next regular meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 5 p.m. in Room 2700 of the Wake County Justice Center. That is a day after the board’s typical first Monday meeting due to the Labor Day holiday.

Board Meeting