City debt debate nears a harmonious end

City Manager Wes Hare listens as Attorney Jim Delapoer presents the proposed amendment.

City Manager Wes Hare, left, listens as Attorney Jim Delapoer presents the proposed amendment.

It was all sweetness and light Monday at the unveiling before the Albany City Council of a proposed charter amendment to fix problems with the city's new debt  limit.

Council members nodded their agreement with the proposal and will probably act in June to put the measure on the ballot in a special election Sept. 17. Approval by city voters then would end a contentious initiative campaign to curb the council's power to incur debt without the voters' say-so.

City Attorney Jim Delapoer presented the draft of the text that would replace the charter amendment voters had approved on March 12. The replacement avoids unintended consequences of the March 12 measure, including the question of whether it was properly enacted with the simple majority it got. (The council said it needed an absolute majority of city voters, which it didn't get.)

The new language would require voter approval, by simple majority, if the city wants to borrow money via general-obligation or revenue bonds, or via financing agreements calling for repayment over more than 13 months. No elections would be required for routine transactions such as leasing police cars, for local improvement districts, for borrowing to meet emergencies, and if state law overrides local limits.

Tom Cordier, the chief petitioner for the original debt limit, thanked Delapoer and City Manager Wes Hare, with whom he and Mike Wynhausen, the Linn Republican chairman, worked out the replacement language in two or three meetings. (The party organization had taken a hand in the debt-limit initiative campaign.) Much of the actual wording was recommended by Harvey Rogers, the city's bond lawyer. (hh)

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