By: Sharon Aron Baron
The city is holding a special election in March to raise $77 million through general bonds. Whether or not voters pass the bonds, the special election will still come in at a hefty cost for taxpayers.
Although there is a general election on November 6, the commission voted to move forward and hold a special election on March 13 for voters to either approve or deny three general obligation bonds. According to the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office, the special election will cost Coral Springs taxpayers up to $190,000. By putting the bond vote on the November ballot, along with the other state and local elections, it would cost the city significantly less money.
Resident Andrew Ladanowski, data analyst and information technology consultant at AddinSolutions supports the improvements and said the March date was probably selected because voter turnout is far lower at special elections than at general elections.
“Coral Springs will focus on encouraging voter turnout among their employees, employee’s spouses, members of city committees, associated contractors, businesses, parents of kids playing sports and focus on seniors who are currently using the senior center. They will make up a larger percentage of the overall voters at a special election than at a general election,” he said.
Mayor Skip Campbell said he was outvoted when the decision for the special election came up. He believes the many improvements to the city were the fiscally responsible thing to do, and if it weren’t for Hurricane Irma, he wouldn’t have increased the taxes, however, Irma depleted the city’s reserves.
If the bonds pass, Campbell said that he will look into reducing the millage rate next time around.
City Manager Michael Goodrum said that they discussed the options at length, and the commission decided that the improvements were long overdue and they needed to move forward as soon as possible.
Divided on the ballot as three separate questions: Bond for Public Safety, Bond for Parks and Recreation, and Bond for Streets and Drainage. Voters can then choose to vote for or against each one.
The November ballot is already cumbersome, said Commissioner Joy Carter, and the general bond items are important and shouldn’t get lost in the rhetoric of a heavy ballot.
“Some of the needs are urgent,” said Carter. “A big one being we are worried that the facility building is not able to survive another hurricane, and that’s how we keep all of our city trucks, fire trucks, police and everything running. It’s past its useful life.”
A big supporter of the public safety bond, Vice Mayor Lou Cimaglia said that senior staff highly recommended the special election. “The worst thing that could happen is that they could bring it back [bond vote] in November.”
Commissioner Dan Daley said that he supported March because he didn’t want to lose another year without making many of the improvements.
All three were asked if they knew how much a special election would cost.
“No I don’t know how much a special election costs. No I don’t know,” said Cimaglia.
Both Carter, and Daley didn’t know the exact number. Campbell believed it was around $150,000.