November 7, 2012

Mainers appear to approve all bond referendums

Only an $11.3 million higher-education bond for the state's community colleges and UMaine was still in question early Wednesday morning.

AUGUSTA — Voters were poised to approve state bond referendums for land conservation, transportation and water treatment projects, but results on a higher-education bond were neck-and-neck with 58 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday.

Voters faced four referendum questions Tuesday that asked them to consider borrowing a total of $75.7 million for education and infrastructure projects.

Approved earlier this year by the Legislature, the bonds would cost an estimated $18.7 million in interest, calculated at 4.5 percent over 10 years, according to the state treasurer.

Question 2 was an $11.3 million higher-education bond, including $7.8 million for a University of Maine animal diagnostic laboratory; $3 million for capital infrastructure improvements at Maine community colleges; and $500,000 for capital infrastructure improvements and equipment at Maine Maritime Academy. The vote was 218,881 to 213,995, with 51 percent in favor and 49 percent opposed.

Question 3
was a $5 million bond to benefit Land for Maine’s Future, to allow the state to buy land and conservation easements to preserve land and water access, outdoor recreation, hunting, fishing, deer wintering areas and for working farmland and working waterfronts. The state money will be matched by at least $5 million in private and public contributions, according to the ballot question language. The vote was 261,284 to 161,764, with 62 percent in favor and 38 percent opposed.

Question 4
was a $51.5 million bond for transportation needs that will attract an estimated $105.6 million in federal and other matching funds. The total bond includes $41 million for highways and bridges; $300,000 for the LifeFlight Foundation for weather observation stations and helipads in rural areas; $3 million to dredge a commercial shipping channel at Searsport for potential port development on Sears Island; $2 million for equipment on Sears Island; $1 million for transit buses; $1.5 million for the Industrial Rail Access Program; $1.5 million for warehousing facilities at Eastport, and $1.2 million for aviation facilities. The vote was 309,457 to 114,624, with 73 percent in favor and 27 percent opposed.

Question 5 is a $7.9 million bond for drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities. The vote was 266,560 to 147,860, with 64 percent in favor and 36 percent opposed.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com

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