Voters in the small town of Fort Myers Beach on Florida’s southwest coast overwhelmingly rejected bonds for a new city hall Tuesday, with 87% voting against the sale of $7 million of 30-year general obligation bonds secured by property taxes.

The council sought the financing to build a new town hall to replace the current facility. It is in a building and on property the town has leased for 15 years at a cost of more than $1.5 million, according to the Fort Myers Beach website.

“At the birth of the town it made very good sense to lease instead of purchasing a property,” officials said on the website. Today, they said, the town is in a “far different and more positive position both financially and with our credit history and borrowing capacity.”

Even after two forums to discuss the referendum, voters rejected the borrowing plan likely because of the lingering downturn in the economy. Fort Myers Beach has a population of about 6,300, and reported no long-term obligations except a $2.34 million bank note outstanding as of Sept. 30, 2010.

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