December 9, 2011
Red Line Business/Financial Plan Presentation in Mooresville
At the November 30 joint meeting of the Redline Task Force and the Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) , consultants for the Task Force presented their Draft Business/Financial Plan for the funding and construction of the Red Line Rail Regional Rail Project. On December 13 from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M, the Lake Norman Transit Commission will host a public unveiling of the proposed plan at the Charles Mack Center in Mooresville (215 North Main Street). Members of the Board of County Commissioners are invited to attend. Board members who plan to attend should contact Assistant to the County Manager Amber Snowden via email or at 704-336-6989.
As you may recall, the Red Line Rail Regional Rail Project is an initiative to upgrade an existing section of the Norfolk Southern Railroad “O” Line in the North Corridor of the Charlotte metropolitan area. As it is currently envisioned, the Red Line Regional Rail has the potential to be a major regional economic development initiative that will improve the movement of both goods and passengers along a 25-mile section of track running south from Mooresville to Charlotte with potential future expansion north from Mooresville to Statesville.
The capital cost of the Red Line Regional Rail Project is currently set at $452 million based on plans that have undergone detailed design work and collaboration. The total capital and Operating and Maintenance cost is proposed to be funded through a partnership of the State of North Carolina (25% - transit funds), Charlotte Area Transit System (25% - transit funds) and the seven North Corridor jurisdictions (50% - value capture funds).
The delivery of the Draft Business/Financial Plan marks the end of Phase II of a five-phase process that is underway for the Red Line Rail Economic Development Project. Following the December 13 presentation of the plan, the Project will move into Phase III. This phase involves reviewing the plan, developing consensus on the final plan, and ultimately adopting a final plan. The Red Line Task Force and MTC have decided to refer the Draft Business/Financial Plan to all participating jurisdictions for review and action.
The next steps for the Project through mid-2012 are as follows:
- Review period: Each jurisdiction will conduct its own review and analysis of the Draft Business/Financial Plan during the first quarter of 2012. This three-month period will culminate in the preparation and delivery by the consultant team of the Consensus Business/Finance Plan by March 31, 2012. Review and approval of the Draft Business/Financial Plan by the participating jurisdictions will be necessary to proceed.
- Adoption period: Beginning on April 2, 2012, each nine-member jurisdiction will conduct its own three-month formal hearing process to adopt the Consensus Business/Finance Plan and all of the Plan’s individual elements as necessary. This process will include the MTC, which will approve CATS financial participation in the Project, and several bodies at the State level, that will rank and assign priority to the Project and approve State participation as described in this Plan.
Board members with questions should contact General Manager Bobbie Shields via email or 704-336-2606.
Moody’s Outlook Changed to Stable
On Wednesday, Moody’s Investors Service notified County staff that it has removed the negative outlook from Mecklenburg County’s credit rating and returned it to stable. The action is based on an expanded evaluation of individual credits and exposure to the US Government’s AAA sovereign rating. The expanded analysis included an evaluation of specific metrics including federal procurement activity, federal employment and healthcare employment. Also considered were Medicaid expenditures for states and public hospital expenditures for local governments, as indicators of direct exposure to federal spending. Moody’s also evaluated the levels of variable rate debt to measure exposure to capital markets.
County staff prepared a comprehensive response to Moody’s request for information and was able to demonstrate that the County’s economy, as well as the economies of the other jurisdictions in the Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), is diverse and does not have heavy concentrations of federal employment or procurement. In addition, the level of the County’s variable rate debt as a percent of available resources (cash & investments) was not considered excessive.
Overall, of the 161 local governments that were placed on negative outlook, 119 had their outlooks revert back to stable. This includes the other North Carolina jurisdictions.
Board members with questions should contact Finance Director Dena Diorio via email or at 704-336-2228.
-- Harry L. Jones, Sr., County Manager