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by Elizabeth CarvlinThough some of the nation's largest bond referendums for economic, development and water projects failed in Tuesday's election, large, school districts across the country fared better, with voters approving a, large number of bond measures to build and renovate schools., On an Election Day when the total par amount of measures on the ballot, was the lowest since *1987-, the percentage of successful bond elections was, the lowest since *1997-, according to The Bond Buyer and i-Deal. Of the 258 questions that asked for $10.6 billion in bonds, 162 were approved, for a total of $6.5 billion. That equates to 60.7% of the total par amount of successful bond measures., In the drought-stricken Southwest, Colorado's proposed $2 billion, authorization for water projects sank like a rock, with 66% of the voters, opposing Referendum A., Opponents of the proposition argued that the project duplicated, existing programs. The proposed authorization was endorsed by the Colorado Bond Market Association and Republican Gov. Bill Owens., I look forward to continuing to seek solutions with legislators from, both parties -- and from every region of the state -- to find the right, route to a comprehensive consensus on Colorado's water policy, Owens said, Colorado's aging water infrastructure must be addressed, With the Continental Divide bisecting the state into the populous Front, Range and the sparsely settled Western Slope, water issues have proved, troublesome over the years because most of the state's water is in the, western part of the state. Environmentalists have ardently opposed new dams and challenged efforts to pipe water from the Western Slope to Denver and other fast-growing cities on the Front Range., A similar, less costly proposal to authorize $200 million of general, obligation bonds for water projects in New Jersey fared better, with voters, approving the debt despite questions about providing low-interest loans to, owners of private dams., However, in Texas, a Houston rail initiative passed with key elected, officials' word that, if voters said yes, they would support the effort to, secure federal funds for the project. Despite vocal opposition, a Houston city department. Citizens approved Metro's plan with 51% of the vote., The catch for Metro is winning approval for federal matching funds., Without that puzzle piece, Metro won't be able to finance the rail plan it presented to voters. Although U.S. Rep. John Culberson and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, both Republicans, had opposed the plan, the two said they would fight to ensure matching funds for Metro if voters endorsed the measure., In what many in the state called baffling in light of what seemed to be, a lack of visible opposition, Ohio voters failed to approve Issue 1, part, of Gov. Bob Taft's Third Frontier plan to issue $500 million of bonds over 10 years to fund high technology and economic development. The measure failed by a narrow margin -- just 4, 600 votes statewide, said Brian Hicks, the state's campaign manager., The measure received little support in rural areas, which Taft said Tuesday would likely be tabled., The state's school measures, including tax increases, found support of, about 50% across the state, but Taft said the economy was to blame for the, failure of his bond program. Taft pointed out the irony that his program was designed to boost the economy but was hurt by voter anxiety about the current economy, said Orest Holubec, Taft's press secretary., The governor believes that the issue's failure is a sign of the, In larger school districts across the nation, the economy seemed to, take a back seat to the need for upgrading schools., In Texas, 51% of the voters approved a $449 million bond package, floated for the North East Independent School District in San Antonio., Proceeds from that authorization will finance new school construction as well as expansions and renovations at existing campuses., Even with this year's rocky political climate in California, voters, there approved some of the largest bond issues on the ballot Tuesday., Voters in the San Francisco Unified School District overwhelming approved a $295 million bond issue. In Alameda County's New Haven Unified School District, voters approved a $120 million bond measure, even with a required threshold of two-thirds., Similarly, voters in one of the nation's most affluent counties, Fairfax County, overwhelmingly approved a bond measure to issue $290.6, million of general obligation debt for school construction in the rapidly, growing area. Local officials have complained for years that the county needs more space for educational facilities., With no organized opposition, voters approved the question 76% to 24%, according to unofficial results provided by the county. The proceeds from the sale of the bonds would also be used for school renovations., Though the majority of Colorado's $817 million of school bond questions, won support, some other innovative ballot questions that would have, provided the first general obligation funds for charter schools were, slugged hard by voters., The Denver Public Schools won their bid for authorization to issue $310, million of debt, while voters approved a $100 million referendum for the, Douglas County School District RE-1. While in Weld County School District RE-5J, voters supported general obligation questions for traditional elementary schools, vote., A similar question was rejected by 71.4% in the Brighton School, District No. 27J., Several school bond issues won passage in Arizona. Voters in Phoenix approved the largest, In the Southeast, Guilford County, N.C., voters overwhelmingly approved, the largest bond authorization in the county's history. On the ballot for the county, whose seat is Greensboro, was a $300 million school bond request. Unofficial numbers show that 67% of voters approved the measure., In Durham County, a $125 million bond request was approved by a 4-to-1, margin. Most of the proceeds, about $110 million, will be used for schools. The rest will go toward libraries, the Durham Technical Community College, and the county's Museum of Life and Science., In other regions:, FAR WEST, Of the 16 bond measures in various cities in Washington, with a par, amount of $92 million, five came out as clear winners, three clear losers, and the remaining were too close to call., The smallest, a $230, 000 bond measure for fire protection in Kittitas, County Fire District No. 3, received the most support, with an overwhelming, 75% of voters favoring the measure., Elsewhere in Washington, an $800, 000 bond proposal for the Benton City, Library collected 68% affirmative votes, as did Raymond's fire safety bonds, for $375, 000 in Pacific County, according to early returns. Larger measures, such as the $9.3 million bond for Zillah School District No. 205 and the $2.3 million in Spokane County Library District capital facility bonds, were also successful with their electorates., That was not the case for the Kennewick $11.7 million bond measure, which voters rejected by more than 60%, and the $3.25 million public safety, bond measure for Orting., NORTHEAST, In Maine, three questions proposed by Gov. John Baldacci for $89.3 million in bond authorizations for transportation, education, and environmental projects won voter approval., The majority of the bonding -- $63.4 million -- will go toward, transportation projects throughout the state. Higher education accounts for $19 million of the total, with an additional $7 million for environmental projects that include water-pollution control. The three issues went before voters as three separate ballot questions., The majority of voters said yes to Hartford's $18.3 million school, bond, but the initiative didn't get the required 15% of eligible voters to, vote in the majority.However, the bonding has another chance if the City, Council approves it by a two-thirds majority after Jan. 1, 2004., SOUTH, Voters in two of four small referendums in Florida on Tuesday approved, the issuance of nearly $26 million in general obligation bonds for public, projects., Nearly 60% of voters in the small city of Deerfield Beach on the, Sunshine State's east coast approved issuing a total of $15.8 million for, park and traffic improvements and public facilities. On the west coast, 52% of voters in the city of Venice approved issuing $10 million in GOs to renovate the community center, widen a public beach, rebuild a pier, and create a waterfront park., In Boynton Beach, up the east coast from Deerfield, 54% of the voters, refused to give city officials approval to issue $11 million in bonds for, expansion at the city library, a senior center, an art center, and the, community pool. Little Rock, Ark., voters overwhelmingly approved a plan by the city to continue a 3.3-mill property tax to back $69 million of GO debt that will finance improvements to roads, public safety facilities, and parks. The mill levy will sunset in 15 years., MIDWEST, In Columbia, voters approved bond issues for sewer and water, projects. Proposition 1 sought $18.5 million of revenue debt to finance upgrades to the city's sewer system, Reporters Elizabeth Albanese, Tedra DeSue, Johanna Piazza, Rich Saskal, Yvette Shields, Shelly Sigo, Matthew Vadum, Rochelle Williams, and Richard, Williamson contributed to this story.
Published in Bond Buyer (2003)
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by Shelly Sigo, Tedra DeSue, and Matthew VadumWhile gubernatorial elections in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi are, dominating the political scene in the Southeast this fall, major ballot, initiatives on Nov. 4 include a $300 million general obligation bond, referendum, in Guilford County, N.C., and a $290.6 million GO question in Fairfax, County,, Only North Carolina and Virginia counties have major referendum issues, to decide on Nov. 4, while a few small bond requests appear on local, government ballots in Florida, where voters are less inclined to approve, GO requests, and in Georgia., In North Carolina, bond requests range from school needs to, infrastructure projects., Counties issue bonds for schools in North Carolina, and in the past 10, years, many of them have seen student populations explode. Issuing debt to keep up with those needs has been the answer, with historic amounts requested and approved by voters., The largest this year is in Guilford County, whose seat is Greensboro, where voters are being asked to approve a $300 million GO request, largest in the county's history. Proceeds will be used to build and renovate 28 schools., In *2000-, voters approved a $200 million authorization, but almost all, of those funds have been exhausted. If the $300 million request is approved next week, property taxes would be raised to pay the debt service, so backers of the measure are concerned about whether voters will give this measure their blessings., Another sizable ballot item will be voted on in Durham County, which is, seeking approval of $123 million worth of debt requests. The bulk of that -- about $114 million -- will be for public schools and community colleges, with the rest for libraries and museums., Other areas requesting debt for schools include Surry County, where, there is a $59 million bond issue on the ballot, and Davie County, where, voters will decide on an $8.8 million referendum., Chapel Hill is seeking approval of a $29.4 million bond referendum for, streets, parks, and recreation, while the town of Huntersville is asking, voters to approve $20 million of bonds for street and highway projects, among other things., The village of Pinehurst and the town of Spring Lake have referendums, for $16 million and $15.7 million, respectively, for water and sewer, projects., Earlier this month, Wake County voters overwhelmingly approved a $485, million bond request, of which $450 million was for schools., The second-largest bond referendum in the Southeast next week is being, held in one of the nation's most affluent localities, Fairfax County, If approved by voters, the measure would allow the rapidly growing, county to sell $290.6 million in GOs for school construction. Local officials have complained for years that the county needs more space for educational facilities., The proceeds from the sale of the bonds would also be used for school, renovations. The northern Virginia county enjoys triple-A GO ratings from all three major credit agencies, and earlier this year it estimated that the gilt-edged advantage has helped it save about $182.9 million in interest costs since 1978., Two bond questions totaling $41.9 million are on the ballot in nearby, Although Loudoun is also a wealthy county, its bond rating is weaker, than its neighbor's. Standard & Poor's rates the county's full-faith-and-credit debt AA-plus with a stable outlook, and Moody's Investors Service rates the same debt Aa1, with a negative outlook that was attached to the rating a year ago. Fitch Ratings also rates the debt AA-plus but has not assigned an outlook., There is no organized opposition to the three bond proposals, voters in the two neighboring counties are expected to approve all of them., There are no statewide bond-related questions on the Nov. 4 ballot in Virginia., Election day for the Southeast's two largest issuers, Florida and, Georgia, will be relatively quiet. In the Sunshine State, at least four referendums will take place. In ballots mailed to voters, Deerfield Beach will ask for $15.8 million in bonds for park and traffic improvements and public facilities. The mailed-in ballots will be counted on Nov. 4., Boynton Beach, up the east coast from Deerfield, will ask voters at the, polls to approve $11 million in bonds for expansion at the city library, senior center, an art center, and the community pool. On the west coast, Venice will ask voters for $10 million in GOs to renovate the community center, to widen a public beach, to rebuild a pier, and to create a waterfront park., In Brevard County, voters will be asked to approve a one-cent sales tax, increase to finance infrastructure, including new schools, public, buildings, and traffic improvements. The same ballot also asks voters to allow the sales tax to secure bonds for the projects, although the amount of debt to be sold is not on the ballot., In Peachtree City, voters will be asked to approve $4.9 million in, GOs to expand and renovate the library., As for the political elections, experts and polls say the governors', races are too close to call, even though Democrats have a lot to lose in, two of the three regular elections slated for Nov. 4 and Nov. 15., The race for the seat held by Kentucky's term-limited Democratic Gov., Paul Patton will be decided on Nov. 4 between state Attorney General Ben Chandler, a Democrat, and Republican U.S. Rep. Ernie Fletcher., In Mississippi, Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove faces former Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour on Nov. 4., Next door in Louisiana on a Nov. 15 runoff election, the seat held by, term-limited Republican Gov. Mike Foster is being sought by former Health and Human Services assistant secretary Bobby Jindal, a Republican, and Democratic Lieut. Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
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by Staff reportsIn perhaps the most closely watched of the primaries held Tuesday, Hampshire Sen. Robert C. Smith became the first incumbent U.S. senator to lose the Republican party's nomination in a decade when he was defeated by U.S. Rep. John E. Sununu., Smith, was the ranking Republican on the U.S. Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee. His ouster leaves an opening for Sen. John Warner, R-Va., or James Inhofe, R-Okla., to take over as the top Republican on the committee or head it should their party retake control of the Senate in November., In conceding defeat Tuesday evening, Smith paraphrased Charles Dickens, Smith was knocked by many after he left the Republican Party in a failed bid as an independent in the 2000 presidential election, only to return to the party., In other Sept. 10 elections, District of Columbia Mayor Anthony A., Williams managed to retain his spot on the Democratic ticket despite the controversy surrounding his nomination papers, which forced him to conduct a write-in campaign in the primary., Also, while he still leads polls and has the Republican Party, nomination sealed, In Florida, which in an echo of the 2000 elections experienced more, problems at the polls, municipal bond industry whistleblower Michael, Lissack lost in a primary bid to run for a seat on the Collier County, Commission., DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Williams easily secured a spot on the Nov. 5 general election ballot as, the official Democratic candidate, a move that virtually guarantees his, election in the overwhelmingly Democratic city., Williams' victory came despite the district's Board of Elections and, Ethics striking his name off the primary ballot for widespread, irregularities on his nominating petitions and fining him $277, 700 for the, irregularities, the largest election-related fine in the city's history., Official results from the balloting on Tuesday will not be known for, several days because the large number of write-in votes has significantly, slowed the official counting process., With 138 out of 141 precincts reporting and 97.87% of the ballots, counted as of early Wednesday morning, 311 or 91.38% of Democratic Party, votes that had been cast for the position of mayor were write-ins, election board reported., Exit polls conducted by the Washington Post on Tuesday showed Williams, with a commanding 3-to-1 lead over his closest rival, Rev. Willie F. Wilson, a Baptist minister who was also a write-in candidate., FLORIDA, All eyes were once again on the state as the release of Tuesday's, primary election results were hampered by equipment problems and the, outcome of the Democratic gubernatorial election was threatened by legal, challenges., In Miami-Dade County, which sold $119.8 million of special obligation, bonds Tuesday with some of the money earmarked for new voting machines, some polls did not open on time and voters were turned away because of, equipment problems., The same was true in Broward County, which spent $17 million on a new, electronic voting system, as well as a few other counties, Bush said when he ordered the extension., While more ballots needed to be counted, Bill McBride appeared to have, edged out former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno. McBride is a former partner at Holland & Knight, Florida's largest law firm and high-ranking bond counsel., Reno, who said she experienced problems voting in Miami-Dade, threatened to file a lawsuit contesting the election., In Collier County, Lissack, a former Smith Barney Inc. banker-turned, whistleblower, was trounced yesterday in his bid to become the Republican, candidate for a Collier County Commission seat., Despite his loss, Lissack, who received only 17% of the vote, said he, would not be deterred from further involvement in Collier County's, Lissack's allegations of yield-burning abuses led to a massive federal, probe and enforcement action against Smith Barney and other firms in the, 1990s. He helped Collier County officials and their lawyers file a class action yield-burning suit against almost 20 broker-dealers that the firms eventually settled for about $4 million., MARYLAND, Overcoming the governor's support for his opponent, state comptroller, and octogenarian William D. Schaefer overwhelmingly won his party's nomination for re-election in Tuesday's primary., Schaefer defeated Secretary of State John T. Willis, who received support and funding from Gov. Parris Glendening, whose second term as governor ends in January. Glendening is Schaefer's long-time rival in the state Democratic Party., Schaefer, is a former two-term Maryland governor who also served, four terms as Baltimore's mayor. He will face Republican Gene Zarwell, a marketing consultant from Anne Arundel County., Schaefer said he intended to run a strong campaign against Zarwell., We'll run a full-fledged campaign, same as we did, Schaefer is a member of the powerful state Board of Public Works, along, with Glendening, that is responsible for overseeing the state's, expenditures and general obligation bond issues., Meanwhile, Lieut. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a Democrat, and Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. easily won their party's nominations in the governor's race. State Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, a 20-year veteran and chairwoman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, fell victim to a redistricting process that altered her district in Baltimore. She was defeated by first-term Del. Lisa A. Gladden, who received strong support from the city's top African-American leaders., NEW HAMPSHIRE, Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, who was unopposed in the primary, will face Republican Sununu in a battle for the U.S. Senate seat in November being vacated by Smith, who lost to Sununu in the Republican primary., Democrats picked two term state senator Mark Fernald Tuesday to run to, replace Shaheen in November while Republicans picked wealthy businessman, Craig Benson. Fernald supports introducing a state income tax while Benson, who spent $9 million to win the Republican nod, the most spent by a gubernatorial primary candidate, has vowed to veto such a measure., While Smith was derided by some for his extremism, and his decision to, run for president in 2000 as an independent candidate, he was a backer of, the use of tax-exempt bonds by private firms to finance transportation, projects., For instance, the controversial two-term senator recently signed on to, a letter urging the Department of Transportation to explore innovative, financing techniques for funding transportation infrastructure., Last year, he introduced a bill that would allow private companies to, use tax-exempt bonds to finance the construction of transportation, infrastructure projects and exempt bonds issued for private mass transit, high-speed rail, and highway projects from the state volume caps on, private-activity bonds., NEW YORK, Former New York City Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who last year mounted an, unsuccessful mayoral campaign, cruised to an easy victory in the Democratic, primary for state comptroller, crushing opponent William Mulrow., Hevesi will face Republican John Faso, the former minority leader in, the New York State Assembly, in November's general election., As expected, McCall easily claimed the Democratic nomination for, governor, following last week's withdrawal of challenger Andrew Cuomo., McCall will now face incumbent Republican Pataki, as well as Independence Party nominee Golisano., Golisano, a billionaire from Rochester who has unsuccessfully run for, governor twice before, edged out Pataki for the Independence party nod, following a contentious and bitter campaign between the two camps., WISCONSIN, Gov. Scott McCallum and Attorney General Jim Doyle will vie for the governor's office in November along with Libertarian Party Ed Thompson, the brother of former Gov. Tommy Thompson., McCallum, a Republican, won his party's primary over two little known, candidates -- real estate agent Bill Lorge and teacher George Pobuda --, with 86% of the vote. Doyle won the Democratic nod with 38% of the vote compared to U.S. Rep. Tom Barrett's 35% and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk's 27%., The state's fiscal woes and a looming $1.3 billion deficit in the next, budget cycle will likely be a key issue in the general election. Doyle and McCallum both have promised that taxes would not be raised to shore up the budget, but neither has spelled out in full detail how the state would cope with the looming deficit., Both have floated proposals that have been met with controversy. Doyle has called for state job cuts, angering state unions, Lynn Hume, Ryan McKaig, Humberto Sanchez, Yvette Shields, Shelly Sigo, Matthew Vadum, Alison Vekshin contributed to this article.
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by Tedra DeSue, Shelly Sigo, and Elizabeth AlbaneseUnderwriters postponed at least one deal as Tropical Storm, Isidore bore down on Louisiana yesterday and other public finance officials, planning bond sales were keeping a wary eye on the storm., The New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board was set to sell $54 million of, revenue bonds today, bolstered by a rating upgrade, but the threat of, Isidore making landfall in the Crescent City put those plans on hold. At press time, the sale had been put on hold indefinitely. Meanwhile, the board reported all pumping stations were in full operation. With forecasters late yesterday predicting up to 15 inches of rain, New Orleans City Hall closed mid-day., The board's financial adviser, Peter Kessenich, a managing consultant, with Public Financial Management, said officials did not want to risk, 2002 with a final maturity of Dec. 1, 2022., Fitch Ratings upgraded the drainage revenue bonds to A from A-minus and, assigned an A-minus rating to the water revenue bonds. Moody's Investors Service upgraded the drainage bonds to A3 from Baa1, and affirmed its A3 rating on the water bonds. Standard & Poor's had not released its rating at press time., Both deals will be insured by Financial Security Assurance., Foley & Judell, the Cantrell Law Firm, and the Godfrey Firm are the, bond counsel., The weather could become a factor in today's sale of Montgomery County, Ala.'s $28.3 million of general obligation warrants, but it is not expected, to, according to banker Mike Dunn of Merchant Capital LLC., The warrants, similar to bonds, are being issued to pay for Montgomery, County's share of costs to buy land and make various site improvements for, Hyundai Motor's automobile manufacturing plant, as well as for other, projects., The offering has been rated Aa3 by Moody's and AA by Standard & Poor's., Fitch was not asked to rate the transaction., Bond counsel is Haskell Slaughter Young & Gallion LLC., Officials along Texas' Gulf Coast said that because the storm is, predicted to bypass their areas, the bond business in the Lone Star State, would likely continue as usual., said Harris County, If the storm does shift course and head toward Houston, Thornton said a, $200 million public improvement bond offering the county plans to sell on, Monday still was unlikely to be affected., With a relatively light calendar this week, traders, issuers, bankers in Houston say they don't expect business to be interrupted by the, storm unless it shifts its path toward Texas., If we get rain and our electricity goes out, obviously we would shut, said one trader in Houston, adding that weather, forecasters were predicting cloudy weather for the city, not rainstorms., which drenched the Houston, area with 40 inches of rain on June 8, *2001-, did not shut down her trading, floor., There were some people who couldn't get out of their houses for two days because of the flooding, Allison left the city with $5 billion of damage and killed 22 people., Some of the worst damage occurred to the Texas Medical Center near downtown Houston. That district, which is comprised of several of the state's most prestigious hospital systems, was largely shut down because of basement flooding that killed emergency generators. Several of those hospitals later used bond financing to move generators to higher floors, though most collateral damage was covered by insurance., Mississippi also was expected to bear the brunt of Isidore and, officials there were closing schools and hospitals were being asked to, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove declared a state of emergency late Tuesday for Mississippi., Isidore left at least two people dead on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on, with the storm center over Alabama by Friday morning., Stormy weather as of yesterday had prevented the Florida Water Services, Authority, located in the panhandle of the state, from scheduling public, meetings to discuss its plan to sell bonds to buy 158 water and sewer, utilities., It's been suggested that we hold meetings, but the hurricane question, said Edwin Eddy, city manager of Gulf Breeze, which, spearheaded formation of the authority and the purchase agreement with, nearby Milton., Eddy said he has received numerous calls from officials around the, state seeking information about the plan since no public meetings were held, prior to the Sept. 19 announcement that Florida Water Services Corp. in, Orlando would sell its utilities to the authority for $507 million., The authority plans to issue $545 million of water and sewer bonds to, buy the utilities and use some of the proceeds for operating expenses and, capital projects., Standard & Poor's this week released a report on the impact of natural, disasters, such as hurricanes, on state and local governments. It found that such events tend to exert short-term pressures and challenges with financial relief provided largely by state and federal aid., The Impact of Natural Disasters on Municipal Bond, -- said before aid arrives, governments generally rely on reserves, on hand, access to capital markets, and insurance payouts to ease them, through the short term., These are among the reasons that credit ratings often are not affected, disasters. For instance, after Hurricane Floyd in *1999-, not one rating was changed in the 12 most heavily hit counties, said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Karl Jacob.
Published in Bond Buyer (2002)
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