Deadline looms to get referendum for bond on ballot
by Joan Durbin
jdurbin@mdjonline.com
August 12, 2012 12:58 AM | 1835 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ROSWELL — Roswell City Council members have been discussing a potential bond referendum to pay for various projects for almost three years.

Generally, they have all been in favor of it. Public input on possible 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 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 recent 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 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 had passed, 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 theater 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, Councilman Jerry Orlans said. But Mayor 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 transportation bucket could be used to spur economic development.

But without project specifics, some council members were reluctant to put the bond to voters. To make the November ballot deadline, council will have to approve the referendum on Monday. For a March ballot, deadline would be December.

Councilwoman Nancy Diamond said she prefers a November public vote.

“I really believe we need an election on this where the most people vote,” she said. “We are so close that we can make this happen.”
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