2012 Birmingham bond referendum
The 2012 Birmingham bond referendum was a city-wide vote on a proposal by Mayor William Bell to issue up to $150 million in bonds to fund a variety of short-term and long-term capital improvement projects across the city. Voters overwhelmingly approved the issue in an October 9, 2012 election in which less than 10% of registered voters showed up at the polls.
The ballot was split into six categories of projects:
- Landfill expansion and improvements, $6.3 million
- Parks and recreational facilities, $20 million
- Street and sidewalk improvements, $48.7 million
- Industrial parks and economic development, $19 million
- Public buildings and equipment, $45 million
- Storm and sanitary sewer improvements, $11 million
The approval and scheduling of specific projects is subject to approval of the Birmingham City Council. Bell expects to put about half of the total to short-term needs, with the remainder going to fund long-term projects. The bonds would be repaid from revenues from Birmingham's "Sinking Fund", an existing 12-mill property tax.
After weeks of discussion and three motions to delay a vote, the City Council approved the public referendum on a 6-2 vote on August 28. In order to win support from the Council, Bell had to provide more detailed proposals for the borrowed funds. All in all, he outlined more than $175 million in proposed projects, from which the Council would determine priorities for spending.
In the days leading up to the referendum, the city sponsored radio ads which critics called misleading because they promised no "new debt" along with no new taxes. The overall level of indebtedness is not expected to be increased as the new bonds are issued because older debts are being retired. However, the issue of bonds does, in fact, represent new debt.
Election day was sunny and mild, but only 12,965 votes were cast by the city's 135,077 registered voters. The most recent 2002 Birmingham bond referendum, drew 18.5% of voters to the polls.
- Bryant, Joseph D. (OAugust 22, 2012) "Birmingham Mayor William Bell, City Council hold first talks on $150 million bond vote." The Birmingham News
- Hansen, Jeff (August 28, 2012) "Birmingham City Council sets public vote on $150 million bond issue for Oct. 9." The Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (October 8, 2012) "Fate of Tuesday's $150 million Birmingham bond proposal hinges on public trust." The Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (October 9, 2012) "Birmingham voters overwhelmingly approve mayor's $150 million bond initiative." The Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (October 10, 2012) "Less than than 10 percent of Birmingham voters participated in successful $150 million bond referendum." The Birmingham News