Mansfield council delays bond election at least until November

Posted Monday, Feb. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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MANSFIELD -- Ready. Set. Wait.

After months of analyzing potential bond projects for what was expected to be the May 11 election, the City Council agreed Monday to put off a bond proposal at least until November.

Council members cited an uncertain economy and lackluster public survey results in which the most popular projects -- a police dispatch center expansion and $19 million worth of street projects -- received approval from only 56 percent and 54 percent of respondents, respectively.

However, the council appeared unanimous in wanting city administrators to move forward with setting priorities and planning street projects, which could be funded in the general operating budget or with certificates of obligation, which are similar to bonds but do not require voter approval.

Some or all of the streets could still wind up on the ballot of a November election, when they would be closer to construction-ready.

"I want to make sure no one thinks this is a bad result," Mayor David Cook said. "We are moving forward. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when."

The council, based on its work session last week, was planning a vote on committing to a slate of bond projects on Monday and then formally calling for the election at its Feb. 25 meeting, ahead of the deadline for putting items on the May ballot.

Council members had spent months evaluating a working list of $100 million worth of streets, public safety and community services project. Last week, the list was whittled to $35 million worth of projects -- the street package and $16 million for park land acquisition and development.

A new library and major expansion of the Mansfield Activities Center were among the projects dropped from the list.

The council also had removed the $14.5 million worth of public safety projects, intending to pay for each on a priority basis over several years, either with budget funds or certificates of obligation.

By waiting until November -- the only other general election date provided by the state -- the City Council and staff would be well into the budget process for the 2013-14 fiscal year and would have a better picture of what could be afforded, city officials said.

The city's last bond election was in 2004.

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