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Marion bond issues pass in clean sweep

New overpass cornerstone of $ 16 million bond extension vote

By Mark Randall

Voters in Marion approved refinancing $16 million in bonds for another 30 years in order to pay for a new round of capital improvements, including a railroad overpass, by a margin of nearly 4 to 1.

All seven questions passed, with street improvements receiving an 80 percent approval from the voters. Library improvements received the lowest vote total with 75.15 percent in favor. “I would have been happy with 50 percent plus one,” said Mayor Frank Fogleman. “But getting 75 percent — that’s not bad.”

The bonds were issued in the early 1980s and have been refinanced periodically, the last time being in 2006, and are paid through an existing one cent sales tax.

The biggest item — $12.185 million for street improvements — passed 412-102. The bulk of that will be used to build a railroad overpass from Hwy.

77 near Wal-Mart Neighborhood Grocery to Military Road.

The proposed overpass is expected to cost about $10.5 million. The federal government has already earmarked $5 million for the project.

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks split Marion roughly in half and result in numerous delays. About 30 trains a day pass over the tracks and produce traffic snarls.

There has been a substantial amount of residential growth on the east side of the tracks and conditions are expected to worsen as the city continues to grow.

The overpass will solve the problem of trains blocking the railroad crossings for residents who live on the east side of Marion, and also alleviate public safety concerns by improving emergency response times and providing a safer route for school buses by providing them with a route that will not require them to stop each time they cross the railroad tracks.

Voters also approved $2.385 million for the Fire Department by a margin of 409-104 to build a new Fire Station No. 1; $1.075 million for park improvements passed 395-117 to improve the city’s ballfields and walking trails; $815,000 for water projects passed with 404 to 108 in favor which will be used to build a new water department office; $635,000 for police improvements garnered 399 to 114 votes for new radios, computers, and a new evidence storage shed; $360,000 for sewer improvements won by a 403-109 margin; and $220,000 for the library passed with 384-127 votes in favor. The money will be used to build a new work room addition onto the Woolfolk Library.

Fogleman said the city will have to publish the official vote results and wait 30 days before they will be able to actually sell the bonds.

“The work starts now,” Fogleman said. “We’ve got to get the lawyers busy.”