Ordinance Calling For $13.8 Million Bond Referendum Passes First Reading 4-1

July 28, 2008

The first reading of the ordinance calling for a $13.8 million bond referendum on the
Nov. 4 ballot passed 4-1 at tonight’s West U. City Council meeting. The second reading will take place at the Aug. 11 council meeting.

Councilman Michael Talianchich was the lone dissenting vote, reiterating his opinion that the majority of West U. residents do not want a new building or pool at the West U. Recreation Center.

“I realize that tonight I am going to be unpopular with my colleagues, but that’s ok,” said Talianchich. “I just feel the people spoke, with the questionnaire and the previous bond referendum…based on what I offered to the public when I got elected, I stand on what I said. My personal viewpoint must be subservient to the majority viewpoint. I don’t’ believe we are following the majority viewpoint in voting for this proposal.”

Resident Susan Oshfeldt spoke at the beginning of the meeting, asking council not to unfairly promote the bond and to “be honest” with residents about the tax increases. Oshfeldt indicated that she thought an article in West U. City Currents did not accurately represent the effect the bond would have on taxpayers.

Mayor Bob Kelly said the bond language was very “strict” and “straight,” without any political involvement.

Council members Phyllis Cohen, Chuck Guffey, Bob Fry and Mayor Kelly expressed thanks to the committees and city employees who created the proposal, and all indicated support for the $13.8 million plan.

“I think that’s one of the things I have always really liked about West University Place the 30 years I have lived here – all the community involvement,” said Kelly. “I also like all the different points of view and how it gets argued out. This is not a sleepy little hollow – people are very opinionated and they do stand up and tell you what they think. At least go down there and vote – vote for it or vote against it, but vote.”

Talianchich expressed concern in the wording of the ordinance, which allows the city to purchase a 40-year bond. Assistant City Manager Chris Peifer indicated that the language was included as a maximum, and allow financial planners leeway. Cit Manager Michael Ross is on vacation.

“I think that’s just the maximum,” said Cohen. “I see no reason to limit their flexibility.”

After the council session, Mayor Bob Kelly spoke about the possibility of political action committees forming to raise money and campaign for or against the bond. He said while it was illegal for city funds to be used for such purposes, council members are allowed to use personal funds. He said he was not sure yet if he would donate to a PAC formed to campaign for the bond, but that he was open to the possibility. Kelly said he believed part of the reason the 2006 bond failed was a lack of support and cohesiveness from council.

At the end of the session, Talianchich also expressed appreciation to the committees and employees who worked to present the final proposal.

“…Even though I don’t agree with their conclusion, they spent a lot of time and effort,” said Talianchich.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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