The Enterprise caught up with Mebane’s longtime Mayor, Glendel Stephenson, to get his thoughts on the city’s recent bond increase, as well as the new Community Park, which will be completed later this year.
Mebane now has a AA+ bond rating, which reflects “very strong” capacity to meet its financial commitments, according to Standard and Poor’s, which conducted the credit review.
“I think it’s a good statement to our citizens and to businesses that might consider coming to Mebane,” Mayor Stephenson said. “The City Council, administration, etc has maintained sound fiscal integrity. That the city has acted in a financially strong position — that has been our reputation for a number of years. And certainly I hope it will continue to be in the future.”
“Just keep in mind, that AA+ bond rating, which may be the best of any city our size in North Carolina, that means a couple of things,” the Mayor continued. “It tells the community that the city is operating is a fiscally-sound manner. At times, we’re going to have to borrow some money. And because of that AA+ credit rating, we’re going to be able to borrow that money for a little bit less than some of the other local communities who don’t have that rating. It’s good for our borrowing capacity.”
Mebane’s fiscal soundness is a tribute to Stephenson, who entered local politics after a successful career in banking. Stephenson’s legacy in more than three decades as Mebane’s Mayor is one of sound strategic moves to accommodate the city’s ever-increasing growth, as well as employing efficient tactics to manage the city’s finances with the highest levels of integrity.
Stephenson, however, is not opposed to spending money. That was evident earlier this year, when he implored the City Council to spend an extra $1 million from the city’s general fund for the impending Mebane Community Park. Instead of having to borrow that $1 million, the city was able to come up with those funds to ensure that the park wouldn’t lose many of the essential services and amenities it will need to enact the vision of community leaders and local citizens.
“Our city is growing. We’re generally growing by a thousand people a year. People need more and more services. The more people that come to town, the more children we have,” Stephenson said. “Mebane is limited as to its recreational opportunities. And a park like that, which should get started shortly, will provide additional place for outdoor venues, walking around, taking your dog, since there’s going to be a dog park there. I think it will be a good place just to spend an hour or two outside, in a controlled environment, that is safe and convenient.”
Stephenson credits Mebane’s citizens for giving the city’s leadership productive feedback and constructive criticism throughout the stages of its many public works.
“The premier purpose of the federal government is to provide for the general welfare of the people,” Stephenson replied. “The purpose of the city is to provide the necessary and essential services needed by the people. Now, that also gets expanded since individual families can’t necessarily do it. The city has to be a part, with all the citizens participating collectively, to have a very large recreational program.”
“There’s no way in the world we could build a multi-million dollar recreational facility without the input of all the people in Mebane,” he continued. “There’s no way we can build a 10 million outdoor recreational facility without the general participation of all the people. We must provide those kinds of amenities for our community. But on the other hand, we’ve got to do it in a responsible, fiscally-sound manner.”
In regards to the possibility of Mebane getting a new high school in the coming decade, the Mayor replied, ‘I have no need for a high school. But somebody paid for mine.’”
“We’re all in this ball game together,” Stephenson said. “And together, if we have those essential services that make life easier, more pleasant, provide us with additional opportunities for leisure, etc., that also makes it attractive to businesses, who are looking for a place to relocate. Their employees and management expect the same sort of attractions.”