Will Taxpayers Foot the Bill?

By: Holly Wagner
By: Holly Wagner

Lincoln Mayor Coleen Seng wants to hold a special election in September on a bond issue to raise money for street improvements. But why not wait until November when more voters would go to the polls for the Presidential Election?

Dave Shively, the Lancaster County Election Commissioner says a special election would cost about $100,000. If the bond issue was put on the November ballot - the cost would be between $25,000 and $30,000.

As to why the city would pay money for a special election and not save $75,000 by waiting until November, City finance Director Don Herz points to interest rates. "We would be able to issue our bonds a little earlier, as interest rates go up, it only adds to the cost to repay the bonds."

Mayor Seng says it also isolates the issue from the others that will be on the ballot in November. City Council Member Jon Camp agrees, however he says there's a flip side. "In a special election, the strategic advantage is fewer people are voting. The proponents would get those people out to support so you'd get the issue passed. It might be strategically less likely to pass in a November election," says Camp.

The City Council will hear from the public on this issue and vote in the middle of July as to whether this will be on the ballot. The rumor among members is the private sector may be willing to fund a special election.

The last time there was a special election was back in 99', it was for the bond issue which gave Lincoln two new high schools. The voter turnout was around 27 percent, the same as the primary election.


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