There’s a petition drive in Newton to try to put a stop to city-financing for the race track that’s under construction but also under a cloud of uncertainty because developers haven’t lined up the 70 million dollars they need for the project. The petitions ask for a “reverse referendum” that would let Newton residents vote on whether the city should provide four-million dollars to the project.
Newton City Councilman Ron Foreman is behind the drive because he’s worried about the money the city will have to borrow to cover the grant promised to the race track’s developers, part of which is to help buy the land for the track. Foreman says if the city’s taxpayers are to be responsible for repaying that four-million dollars, they should get to vote on whether to give it in the first place.
The city’s bond attorney, though, contends the financing package cannot be put up to a city-wide vote. Foreman believes it will be a judge who ultimately decides whether voters can have a say on the matter. Jasper County’s Auditor says about three-hundred-25 signatures must be collected in order to force a referendum in the City of Newton and petition drive organizers expect to have those signatures in hand by the end of the week.