BRADENTON, Fla. — Southeast voters faced fewer bond referendums Tuesday than any other region in the country and approved 85% of the $887.5 million total.
The largest total amount for a single locality was in Charlotte, N.C., where voters approved the issuance of $203.6 million.
In separate questions, Charlotte’s voters were asked to approve $156.6 million for roads and sidewalks, $32 million for neighborhood improvement, and $15 million for affordable housing. The referendums passed by at least 56%, according to unofficial city results.
In Virginia, Fairfax County voters approved $120 million of transportation bonds.
Officials said $20 million will be sold in January with the remainder being issued the next five to six years.
Arlington County voters agreed to the sale of $102.88 million of school bonds.
There also were a number of non-bond referendums affecting budgets and spending in the Southeast.
Virginia voters passed an increase in the state’s rainy-day fund by 51% to 49% . The measure increases the reserve stabilization fund to 15% from 10% of the state’s annual income and sales tax revenues for the previous three years. The higher reserves could bolster the state’s triple-A credit rating, according to Standard & Poor’s.
In Alabama, early election results indicated that voters were not in a spending mood. They rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed state officials to spend $1 billion over 10 years for a pay-as-you-go transportation program.
The funds would have been taken from the Alabama Trust Fund, which receives deposits from the state’s oil and gas royalties.
The state uses the trust fund and its earnings primarily to support the general fund.
The Alabama “amendment would make the state’s budget less flexible, since the general fund receives annual transfers of a portion of income from the trust fund,” Standard & Poor’s said in a pre-election report on referendums affecting state budgets. “However, the fund’s revenues, with or without the amendment, would continue to be subject to the performance of the oil and gas industry.”
The rating agency expressed no opinion on whether approval of the amendment could affect Alabama’s AA rating.
In Georgia, voters defeated a constitutional amendment that would have given the Georgia Department of Transportation the flexibility to use a cash-flow accounting method to facilitate its entry into multi-year construction agreements. With the defeat of the amendment, GDOT will remain required to have all the funds in hand when a multi-year project contract is signed.
An investigation last year uncovered that the accrual accounting practice was already in use at GDOT, which led state auditors to suggest that state law be changed. Subsequently, lawmakers placed Tuesday’s constitutional amendment on the ballot.
The defeated law would have given GDOT the flexibility to do more transportation projects with limited funding, leverage funds, and enhance the use of public-private partnerships, supporters said.
Georgia needs an estimated $65 billion over the next 20 to 30 years to fund its statewide transportation plan.