Cedar Rapids city leaders are pushing for the governor to sign a bill that would allow communities to issue multi-million dollar bonds without public approval. Local governments in Iowa can already sell certain bonds without a vote, but a bill before the governor would allow disaster affected cities and counties to undertake bonding projects worth more than three million dollars.
Cedar Rapids Mayor Kay Halloran says the bill would allow the city to rebuild flood damaged facilities more quickly. "As long I have been in public life, the legislature has kept a real tight lid on anything cities wanted to do. In fact, they wanted to starve cities," Halloran said.
Under current rules, cities must receive 60% voter approval for expensive bonding projects. Halloran says if the bill is signed it would still give voters an appropriate check on city government.
"If we’d really done something, absolutely, totally stupid, that everybody agreed was stupid, they could have a way to keeping us from doing it – but for the most part, under normal circumstances, public officials aren’t going to go out and do stupid things because they have an election to face," Halloran said.
The new provisions would allow citizens to collect petition signatures to force a vote on bonding projects. Supporters say some of the bonding money might only be needed to pay for upfront costs that would later be reimbursed by state and federal government.