According to a McSweeney press release, recent reports have exposed how the current alternate revenue bond law has facilitated risky deals that have resulted in increased local taxes. If passed, his new legislation would address the ease at which alternative revenue bonds are issued because the current process sidesteps taxpayers and property tax caps in many cases.
"This is a common sense bill that allows taxpayers to more easily organize a referendum to oppose local borrowing proposals,” said McSweeney (photo right). "We are talking about large sums of taxpayer money. Property taxes are skyrocketing while local governments keep borrowing for what they want and cannot afford.”
For alternate revenue bonds, HB 983 provides for measures to encourage fiscal responsibility by making the Chief Procurement officer responsible for providing accurate information about how alternate revenue bonds would be paid off. Local governments would no longer be able to use consultants to do this work. Revenues from the venture should be able to pay off 150% of the debt; this is being increased from 100%. Finally, the bill extends the allowance for petition signatures for a backdoor referendum from 30 to 90 days and in order to initiate a referendum this bill would require the lesser of 5% (currently 7.5%) of registered voters in the governmental unit or 500 signatures of those registered voters. The most significant change is to require only 500 signatures to initiate a backdoor referendum.
"Municipalities have little oversight when it comes to borrowing millions of dollars which often times end up being a back door tax hike on residents, " added Franks. "Oversight needs to be put into the hands of the taxpayers. We must increase accountability for our taxing bodies and empower the taxpayers to serve as fiscal guardians.”
Rep. McSweeney is Chief Sponsor of HB983 and Rep. Franks signed on as Chief Co-Sponsor. The legislation was filed yesterday.