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November 14, 2012ROSWELL, Ga. — Roswell voters approved a $14.7 million bond referendum Nov. 6 in the general election. The bond passed with 64 percent of the vote.
The $14.7 million bond will be taken out in two chunks – one of $10 million and one of $4.7 million – and will pay for several large projects around town, including a new fire station in east Roswell, multiple improvements to the Ga. 400/Holcomb Bridge interchange as well as many quality of life projects, such as bike paths and a new therapeutic pool for the Roswell Adult Recreation Center.
"It appears [the projects] hit the right mark with Roswell residents," said Roswell Councilman Rich Dippolito. "We have a well-informed, educated city, and I'm pleased they saw the bond as a sound financial investment for the city."
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The largest chunk of the bond will go toward the interchange improvements at Ga. 400 and Holcomb Bridge Road at $6 million, which Dippolito said was a about time.
"Improving the Ga. 400 interchange has been a personal goal since I've been in office," he said. "It's exciting we will see movement on it."
In a time of tight fiscal management in the political realm, taking out a bond might seem odd to onlookers, and certainly Roswell faced its challengers. The city explained the new bond debt will not add to the tax burden, instead coming in as old debt is retired, keeping taxes neutral.
The Roswell City Council initially was considering a much larger bond; however the failure of the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum earlier in the year made them pause in their plans. A pared-down version is what came before the voters to decide.
The projects on the list come from input from city departments, which gave their wish lists to council. Council then pared down that list to end up at the $14.7 million they deemed both needing the money as well as likely to pass with the voters. Several of the projects already have had work done on them by the city, such as designs and engineering, and simply require funding to build.
Roswell has a AAA bond rating – better than the federal government – and can command a low interest rate on the bonds.
In light of the failure of the metro-wide transportation tax referendum (TSPLOST) earlier this year due in part to an anti-tax movement, Roswell officials were eager to make a list they felt Roswell voters would directly benefit from, while stressing a new bond would not increase taxes.
The city will begin planning and designs for the projects immediately, getting them prepped for when the bonds will be taken out, beginning in 2014.
Some projects do not require much planning, such as the synthetic turf fields, which will go out to bid and be built as soon as the money comes in, Dippolito said.
"There's a good amount of work that's been done on each of the projects," he said. "They are all great projects and the sooner we get them done, the better."
Other local races Nov. 6 saw U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-6) winning re-election along with state Sen. John Albers (R-56) in their contested races.
The constitutional amendments to allow a new charter commission and multi-year state contracts both passed.
While Georgia voters supported Mitt Romney for president, President Barack Obama won re-election nationally.