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Roswell races deadline to put bond issue on Nov. ballot
by Joan Durbin
August 08, 2012 01:33 PM | 1339 views | 1 1 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Roswell City Council members have been discussing a potential bond referendum for almost three years.

Generally, they have all been in favor of it. Public input on possible bond projects was sought on numerous occasions, including online surveys and open houses with representatives from city departments available to explain the projects and answer questions.

Now, with a deadline to get on the November ballot looming, nothing has been decided. And there is disagreement in the ranks as to whether it is advisable to put a bond question before the voters in the upcoming election or wait until next year.

“We’ve been talking about this for two and a half years and we still do not have a project list,” Mayor Jere Wood said at a Monday night workshop.

With a $24 million bond issue feasible but more than $40 million in suggested projects, council members had each ranked projects for priority consideration.

After the failure of the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax to be passed last month, council members were in clear consensus on one major project, improvements to the Holcomb Bridge Road/Ga. 400 intersection.

While there was a pot of money coming to Roswell for that and other local transportation projects if the T-SPLOST was enacted, the city now has to fend for itself. And competition for any state dollars will be fierce.

“The reality is now that it didn’t pass, everyone will be going to GDOT to get funding for their projects. We will have to take our place in line and duke it out with everyone else,” Roswell Transportation Director Steve Acenbrak told the council.

Other projects that elicited some verbal support from various council members included a therapeutic pool and fitness room at the adult recreation center, synthetic turf for ball fields and a new fire station to replace fire station 4, which has structural damage and is too small for modern fire trucks.

A second, smaller theatre at the Cultural Arts Center also drew some favorable comment. The project would include dressing rooms, costume storage, a rehearsal hall, lobby concessions and renovations.

The additional theatre would free up the main stage for more bookings which could generate more revenue for the arts center’s operations, said Councilman Jerry Orlans. But Mayor Jere Wood said he would have to see the financial projections before he could support it.

Council members talked about dividing the $24 million into “buckets” labeled transportation and infrastructure, recreation, parks and cultural and public safety. Some of the money in the first bucket could be used to spur economic development.

But without specifics of the intended projects in each bucket, some council members were reluctant to put the bond on the ballot. To make the November ballot deadline, council will have to approve the referendum at their Aug. 13 meeting. For a March ballot, deadline would be December.

Councilwoman Nancy Diamond said she prefers November.

“I really believe we need an election on this where the most people vote. I think we are so close that we can make this happen,” she said.
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Lee Fleck
August 10, 2012
The City of Roswell’s proposed $24 million bond referendum that will be on the ballot in November is unnecessary.

Roswell’s current debt service millage rate generates $6.3 million annually and Mayor Wood and City Council plan to roll over this tax revenue into the day to day operations instead of retiring it once the bonds are paid off.

Now during the recently concluded fiscal year budget hearings this past June, City Administrator Kay Love announced, out of the blue, that there was an excess in debt payment revenues in the amount of $6.7 million currently in an escrow account available to cover the entire debt payment due next year. This is not simply a lack of transparence, but outright deception.

Budget Director, Keith Lee, confirmed at the July 30th “Open Mic” Council meeting that these excess monies were, for all practical purposes, the result of over taxation.

When the City begins to roll over the debt service next fiscal year, it will generate an additional $26 million in revenues over the next five fiscal years making the bond referendum unnecessary because sufficient funds will be available for all the projects earmarked on the proposed bond referendum.

So the logical question is why would the Mayor & City Council propose a bond referendum in the first place?

It’s all about the money!

The current debt service income is $6.3 million annually, while the payment on a $24 million bond will only be $2.4 million annually. This proposed bond will allow the city to capture the additional $4 million each year to expand their bloated budget while deceiving citizens with the perception that all the monies are needed for the projects on the list proposed for the bond.

Meanwhile Mayor Wood says “people need to trust their government”.
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