BRADENTON, Fla. Voters in Atlanta overwhelmingly approved two referendum questions Tuesday authorizing the city to issue $252 million in general obligation bonds.
The financing is designed to allow the city to chip away at a nearly $1 billion backlog of infrastructure needs.
The first ballot question asked voters to support $187.95 million in bonds to finance “critical capital maintenance” on streets, bridges, storm water drainage, and related facilities.
Voters cast 18,314 ballots, 88.21% of the total, in favor of the authorization.
In a second question, voters approved $64.05 million to work on various municipal facilities. It passed with 17,791 votes or 85.52% of the ballots that were cast.
“The city is pleased that the citizens have supported the referendum in such an overwhelming manner,” said Atlanta chief financial officer Jim Beard. “The city plans to issue the bonds at one time during the second quarter of 2015.”
Of the total amount approved Tuesday, $250 million will go toward work on various projects while $2 million represents issuance costs.
The referendum was an initiative of Mayor Kasim Reed to begin addressing capital needs, also supported by the City Council.
Reed promised voters that the bonds will be revenue neutral. Even though the debt will require the city to pledge property taxes for repayment, the city plans is to reduce its separate operating millage rate.
Operational costs will be reduced by implementing cost efficiencies in government as well as ridding the city of surplus property.
On Monday, the council voted unanimously to create a 13-member oversight committee to ensure that the bond financed projects are completed.
In addition to the GO bonds, Atlanta expects to issue $200 million in revenue bonds for the Atlanta Falcons’ new football stadium in the second half of this year.
The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the validation of the bonds on Monday.
A hotel-motel tax collected in the city will secure the stadium debt, which will be issued by Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development authority.