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Voters back $3.1 million bond referenda.

Voters in cities went tot he polls in record numbers to vote not only for a new President and Congress, but also to vote on hundreds of municipal bond referenda plus initiatives to limit taxes and government spending.

Nationwide, voters last Tuesday approved 62 percent of $11.7 billion in proposed state and local bond issues, adopting 238 of 383 bond proposals valued at $7.3 billion. Ninety-three of 140 municipal bond referenda were adopted, giving cities and towns the go-ahead to issue upwards of $3.1 billion in municipal tax exempt bonds, setting both the best success rate and highest dollar volume of any level of state or local government.

For the most part, cities were winners in a series of key initiatives, defeating attempts to limit municipal taxes and spending authority and sending renewed messages to halt unfunded state mandates.

Michigan voters rejected proposals to limit increases in residential property assessments and to roll back school-district taxes, while Idaho voters also rejected a limit on property taxes.

In a major victory for Illinois cities and towns, voters there approved an advisory referendum recommending that the state stop mandating programs on local governments without providing funding.

Oregon voters defeated Measure 7, which would have created a split roll property tax limit.

The worst outcome appeared to be in Colorado where voters adopted a constitutional amendment to limit state and municipal spending to the rate of inflation, adjusted for population growth, and require voter approval for all state and local tax increases, except in certain emergencies.

Colorado voters rejected a school voice plan to allow parents to take public education dollars to private schools. Arizona, after years of bitter conflict, finally created a paid state holiday for the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Massachusetts voters adopted a new excise tax of 25 cents a pack on cigarettes to subsidize smoking-related health programs, but rejected a measure to require recyclable packaging.

In 14 states voters cast sweeping approval of term limits which could affect up to 225 members of the 103rd Congress, plus scores of state and local elected officials who are under state-imposed limits or who have pledged to support limits.

Although the limits on federal elected officials are expected to face a constitutional challenge, the new limits offer no such escape for many state and local leaders. It remains unclear when a challenge could be brought at the federal level, since no one would be barred from running again before 1998.

Bond Elections

The $7.3 billion for bonds was the third-largest amount of bonds approved in a general election ever, indicating both the confidence in cities by their voters and the pent-up needs for education, environmental compliance, health care, and transportation facilities.

Seattle voters narrowly rejected $695 million in school bonds. San Franciscans adopted a $350 million bond for earthquake safety measures but rejected a $158 million issue for prison renovations.

The largest proposal approved this year was $1.5 billion Los Angeles plan to finance the expansion of the city's sewer system, followed.

Voters in the city of Baltimore approved seven bond issues totaling $43 million for a variety of capital projects, including public school

construction, recreational facilities improvements, and economic development efforts.

Atlanta voters approved a $94 million school bond issue to finance renovation of the city's school facilities.

In Charlotte, N.C., voters approved $67 million of a $71 million package of bonds, endorsing $46.1 million for sewers and $20.9 million for the water distribution system. The city's voters defeated a propose $4 million of debt for a coliseum.

In Raleigh, N.C., voters soundly defeated a $95 million bond issue to finance a civic center.
COPYRIGHT 1992 National League of Cities
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Title Annotation:1992 election
Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Nov 9, 1992
Previous Article:Women make gains at local level.
Next Article:Leadership is key to tempering great expectations with reality.

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