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Commission split on timing of bond vote
by Liz Marino
lmarino@neighbornewspapers.com
June 12, 2013 11:53 AM | 1100 views | 0 0 comments | 56 56 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Douglas County commissioners apparently agree about the need for a referendum on a bond to fund priority county infrastructure projects, such as roads, parks and recreation, a new radio system for law enforcement and a new animal shelter facility.

The commissioners, however, differ as to the timing of calling for a bond referendum vote.

During the June 3 work session, Commission Chairman Tom Worthan prefaced the discussion by saying that he wants complete unity in making the decision.

“To support a bond referendum, I would want every commissioner to support this before I would support this,” he said.

Worthan explained that one of the reasons the budget increased is because the commissioners wanted to build some infrastructure and that transportation is part of economic development.

“What we most hear from the public [is] we have to do something about our roads.” Worthan said.

Worthan stressed the need for a new animal shelter sooner rather than later and was concerned that failure of a bond referendum passing would further delay its construction.

Under a lease purchase, the county could secure funds to build the estimated $3.5 million project and pay it back over time.

“If the bond issue fails, we would be locked out of a lease-purchase for four years,” Worthan added.

District 1 Commissioner Henry Mitchell III said he is in favor of moving forward with a bond referendum.

“If there is a need, why are we not moving forward?”

District 2 Commissioner Kelly Robinson said he was in favor of putting a bond referendum before the voters now.

“If the bond helps move the county forward and is in step with the overall plan,” said Robinson, “there should be no delay.”

However, District 4 Commissioner Ann Jones Guider pointed out that an election this year would be in an off-year for an election and, historically, a very small segment of the county’s population comes to the polls.

She added, “The budget for 2013 is based on a possible three-mill increase. I think it is a bad time for a bond issue.”

“I want this to pass and I think we have the best chance of passing it with a larger turnout,” she said.

District 3 Commissioner Mike Mulcare explained that he was not in favor of a bond referendum this year.

“I think the four items on our list are important and I support them,” he said.

“Animal Control is very germane to the public health segment – not just a small population – but for the entire population,” Mulcare said. “I think the time to address the bond issue is next year. I do not think a short-term pause will affect the long-term goals.”
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