Voters repudiate bond law change
Charter ordinance rejected by 10-1 margin
Marion residents spoke loudly at the ballot box Tuesday when they overwhelmingly defeated by 269 to 25 votes a charter ordinance that would have taken away their right to approve future city borrowing.
The defeat is a blow to Mayor David Mayfield and other council officials who passed Charter Ordinance 22 in July.
It would have allowed Marion to circumvent state law. Ruth Herbel, who voted against the ordinance, was thrilled with results of the special election.
“The people sent a strong message to the council,” she said, noting that turnout was particularly good for a one-item election.
A successful petition drive forced the election, estimated to have cost about $4,000. There were two provisional votes.
Gilmore Bell, a company that charges the city to sell its bonds, wrote the ordinance for Marion.
Statutes specify that bonds for public improvement may be issued after a city engineer has developed a master plan for development and the borrowing is approved in a referendum.
The charter ordinance would have allowed elimination of voting and specified that a master plan be submitted by a city administrator, not an engineer.
The ordinance also would have allowed the city to borrow not just for improvements but to acquire land not already part of the city and to purchase vehicles or other personal property for use related to improvements.
The ordinance would have allowed the city to pass a resolution by simple majority specifying the amount and purpose of bonds. A two-thirds super-majority would not have been required.
At the time of the July vote, city officials had been discussing issuing $1.875 million in bonds to be paid with money from a 0.75% sales tax. That tax, imposed 21 years ago to pay for industrial park improvements, instead was used in part for other purposes, including paying for an economic development director.
Of the bond money sought earlier this year, $850,000 would have been used for the industrial park. The rest of the new borrowing would pay for 10 city blocks of street work, according to proponents of the ordinance.
Last modified Dec. 21, 2022