BRADENTON, Fla. - By a mere 26 ballots, voters in Lake Worth, Fla., refused to give the city permission to issue $63.5 million in general obligation bonds for infrastructure repairs.
Elected officials of the small city in Palm Beach County, about 62 miles north of Miami, wanted a different outcome on the Aug. 26 primary ballot.
Other communities in the Sunshine state are hoping for better luck on the November ballot with GO requests.
Lake Worth's financing would have gone toward projects in the Lake Worth 2020 plan, which identified needed capital improvements for water, sewer, stormwater, road resurfacing, landscaping, street lighting, and enhancements at an industrial park.
Katie McGiveron, head of the group Citizens Against Unfair Taxation, told the Palm Beach Post that she objected to using funds for the development of the industrial park, but would have supported a smaller issue for repairing roads.
People who voted against the bond issue are "just against everything," and nothing would have persuaded them to vote yes, pro-bond group leader Herman Robinson told the paper.
While Lake Worth's bond referendum was defeated by a close margin of 50.42% of the votes, the negative outcome is typical of voter sentiment in most parts of the Sunshine state who oppose increasing their property taxes to issue GOs.
Miami-Dade County is an exception where voters approved $830 million in GO bonds for new public hospital facilities and equipment in 2013. They authorized $1.2 billion in GOs for new schools and upgrades in a 2012 referendum.
Miami-Dade County commissioners will soon consider placing a $540 million bond referendum on the November general election ballot to finance the construction of a new courthouse.
In nearby Broward County, home of Fort Lauderdale, the school district will ask voters to approve $800 million in general obligation bonds for capital needs on the November ballot.
The district has said that the funding for capital is necessary because the Legislature since 2008 has reduced funds allocated for school facility capital needs.