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Council says no to GO bond on ballot

By Staff | May 2, 2011

City Council voted against placing a general obligation bond on the November ballot Monday night, instead looking to other options to help pay down the city’s short-term utility debt.
Some members of council said they would not vote for the referendum themselves as citizens, while others said they there not support for the GO bond in the community.
Councilmember Derrick Donnell said the majority of people he’s spoken with did not favor the bond.
“The response I’ve gotten has been negative … I don’t think it would be a wise use of our time to put this on the ballot,” he said.
Had it been approved to be placed on the November ballot, the GO bond would been based on property values and ad valorem taxes.
City budget administrator Sheena Milliken said citizens would have been able to calculate their own impact based on a millage rate of 2.4633, but the true millage would not be known until July 2012, and citizens would not see the bond on their tax bills until later the same year.
Milliken said the bond would reduce the utility debt by 12.5 percent and all property owners in the city would be impacted by it, but that impact would vary.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail, who sponsored the ordinance, said council has come up with no other options during its time at Committee of the Whole meetings other than the GO bond.
Critical of the COW meetings, McGrail said the GO bond was the only idea that had some forward movement.
“We’ve seen all these ideas come forward and we haven’t chosen any of them. We’re seeing them come around a second time now,” he said.
City Manager Gary King said his staff is “actively” working on assessment methodologies for both infill and expansion, which are due in the next couple of weeks.
Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz favored looking deeper into the assessment methodologies, but right now it is important to make certain that voters aren’t confused at the polls.
“The last thing I want to do is create confusion at the polls when an option or options are given,” Chulakes-Leetz said.
The GO bond referendum failed unanimously.
In other news, McGrail could have been lumped into District 5, but instead will remain in his current district after council accepted the new plan as laid out by the redistricting commission.
McGrail was worried the commission was lumping him into district 6, post redistricting, instead of making the decision of keeping district 6 north of Pine Island Road.
Mayor John Sullivan disagreed.
“For us to step in here the last minute … it’s ridiculous,” the mayor said.