Yes on questions to move New London forward

On Election Day, voters in New London will face five ballot questions. The city will be better off if voters approve all of them. However, confusing language will not help and neither will the City Council's decision to needlessly push back some of the votes to Nov. 4, when they should have been acted on sooner.

The city questions will be listed two through six, following Question 1, asking voters to approve an amendment to the Connecticut Constitution.

The following is the list of the New London questions, followed by our observations.

Question 2: "Shall City Ordinance 05-27-14-1, Annual Appropriation Ordinance totaling $44,030,106 for the City Government Fiscal Year 2014-2015, be approved?"

A petition drive challenging the budget forced this question onto the ballot. The council should have set a special election to act on the petition challenge, but a majority instead voted to delay until Election Day.

This means that the vote comes four-plus months into the fiscal year. Even if voters reject the budget, it would be difficult for the council to make any substantial cuts this deep into the year. While a "no" vote could be cast to protest both the delay in placing the question on the ballot and the tax increase, the better option is to approve this budget, which has proved fiscally sound, and make the need for quicker votes on these petition challenges a 2015 election issue.

The Day recommends a yes vote.

Question 3: "Shall City Ordinance 05-27-14-2, Annual Appropriation Ordinance totaling $41,255,706 for the City of New London's Board of Education Fiscal Year 2014-2015, be approved?"

This question followed the same path as the petition challenging the municipal budget. After years of flat funding of education, this budget includes a modest, sensible spending increase that leverages increased state aid.

The Day recommends a yes vote.

Question 4: Shall City Ordinance 06-26-14-1, entitled: "New London Magnet Schools Pathways Project," appropriating and/or bonding $168,000,000 for evaluating, planning, designing, repairing, renovating, modifying, improving, equipping and constructing (1) a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics middle school, (2) a public service and leadership magnet middle school and high school, and (3) a dual language magnet middle school and high school, be approved?"

This is the most critical ballot question city voters face. While the bonding number is a large, the actual cost to New London is estimated at $31 million, after state reimbursements.

For that price the city will upgrade the grossly deficient and outdated Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School and New London High School, which faces loss of accreditation without a plan to make improvements. Plans also call for construction of a science, technology, engineering and math middle school at the high school campus.

These projects, which will play out over several years, will make it possible for New London to transition to an all-magnet-schools district. That change will produce increased state aid, provide school choice for students and families in New London, and attract students from surrounding communities, providing racial and economic diversity to city schools.

Improving city schools will increase property values and make the city more attractive to business investors.

The investment is well worth it. The Day strongly urges a yes vote.

5. "Shall City Ordinance 04-07-14-3, appropriating and/or bonding $1,100,000 for the purpose of evaluating, planning design, construction, repairs and modifications to the city's infrastructure, including the boardwalk, waterfront expansion, city vehicles, roads, drainage, City building and fuel tank be approved?"

This is the most confusing question. The city has actually finished all this work. For years past administrations used savings to pay cost overruns on these projects, contributing to a deep financial hole from which the city is only now emerging. In essence, the city wants to use this money to partially replace money taken from the fund balance, helping rebuild it, a necessity to maintain a good credit rating and control interest costs.

This makes sound fiscal sense and voters should say yes.

6. "Shall the City of New London approve a resolution, renewing for a five year period, the powers granted to the City under the Connecticut City and Town Development Act, as set forth in CGS Sec. 7-480 et. Seq.?"

This question is essentially a technicality, allowing the city to continue utilizing various incentive programs to attract businesses. It has been approved by voters several times since first introduced in the 1970s. New Londoners should again vote yes.

The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.

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