New London voters facing 5 questions on Election Day

New London — In addition to voting for governor, lieutenant governor and other constitutional officers on Nov. 4, city voters will be asked to cast a vote either for or against five different ballot questions.

The City Council on Tuesday night approved the language for the five ballot questions, four of which were the subject of a referendum petition that garnered at least 298 verified signatures.

In two separate ballot questions, voters will be asked whether they support the general government and Board of Education budgets the City Council passed in May.

The council approved a general government budget of $44,030,106 and an education budget of $41,255,706 for a total city budget of $85,285,812.

The 2014-15 budget represents an increase of $4,041,352, or 4.97 percent more than the current budget, and will necessitate a tax rate of 38 mills, an increase of 10.5 mills.

Voters will also have the chance to weigh in on the $168 million bond ordinance approved by the council in June as part of a school construction plan, which would involve renovating as new Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School and New London High School, and constructing a building to house a science, technology, engineering and math middle school at the high school campus.

In all, the council approved a $31 million bond ordinance to allow some facilities of the Garde Arts Center, as part of its own capital improvement plan, to be expanded and renovated to accommodate an arts magnet high school in downtown New London. But that ordinance was not the subject of a referendum petition.

On April 30, the City Council voted to approve the bonding of $1.1 million to add to the city's fund balance, the account that can act almost as overdraft protection for the city's general fund.

By bonding the $1.1 million, city officials said at the time, the city would be able to replace money it took from its fund balance going back about a decade, when capital projects such as roadway improvements ran over budget.

Without a healthy fund balance, the city was susceptible to cash flow problems, as happened in April when the city had to request that the state expedite payment of Education Cost Sharing funds in order to meet its $1.7 million biweekly payroll.

The final question on the November ballot will ask voters to approve a five-year renewal of the Connecticut City and Town Development Act, a state law that allows the city to offer a flexible schedule of tax abatements and other economic development incentives. City voters have approved the act every five years for the last two decades.

c.young@theday.com
Twitter: @ColinAYoung

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