Syracuse will put road repair bond on fall ballot

Sep 4 2011 - 10:38pm

SYRACUSE -- City leaders in Syracuse have formally taken action to get a $3 million bond, targeted at road repair, on the ballot this fall.

The city council recently voted 4-1 to put the bond package before voters on Nov. 8.

Councilman Matt Kimmel voted against the proposal. He has said in past meetings that the proposal would be yet another financial burden to the city. Syracuse currently has five outstanding bonds, totaling more than $15 million.

In placing the funding package before voters, city officials will now schedule a public hearing Sept. 27 to receive public input on the plan and will initiate a formal notification period.

The bond resolution calls for voters to consider a $3 million sales tax bond package over a 10-year period.

Sales tax bonds do not require a public vote to implement, but city leaders have opted to let the voters decide anyway.

City Recorder Cassie Brown said staff initially was looking at a different kind of bond package that would have required a public vote when the process started. They later found a sales tax bond would best fit the city's needs.

Even though it is not required, Mayor Jamie Nagle said the vote will be important, because it is the residents who will be on the hook for the debt, should it be approved.

"We have a lot of debt, and none of it was taken to citizens to vote," Nagle said.

City Manager Bob Rice said he expects city staff to put together a voter information sheet on the bond and possible options to pay for the package or to address road repair. He has raised the possibility of a maintenance fee to address road repair, which would be added to monthly utility bills.

The maintenance fee is just one of several financial options that have been discussed by officials as they wrestle with what they estimate to be a $2.89 million shortfall for immediate road repairs and a projected need of $10 million to complete all roadwork over the next five to 10 years.

In the past fiscal year, the city had just $78,000 to spend on road repair and maintenance.

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