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N.J. Voters Support Bond Issues

November 5, 1997

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ New Jersey voters approved three public questions concerning loans to fund the demolition of dilapidated urban buildings, and water and sewer projects.

Only public question No. 1, a $20 million demolition loan fund, involved new spending. The amount was the smallest bond issue referendum since 1968 and stirred little controversy.

The bond issue money will establish a trust fund that cities can tap for low-interest loans to knock down abandoned buildings. Sponsors said it is needed to remove crime nests and to make urban lots more attractive for development, which is often discouraged by the high cost of demolition when open lots are available elsewhere.

Public questions No. 2 and No. 3 sought approval for technical changes for prior bond issues and do not propose new spending.

The 1989 Stormwater Bond Act was approved by voters to help local governments plan how to replace outdated storm sewer systems. Public question No. 2 changed the rules of the bond issue so loans can be used for actual sewerage projects.

The 1981 Water Supply Bond Act provided a blend of state loans for local governments to build water systems, such as treatment plants or pumping stations. In 1996, $28 million in federal funds became available for drinking water supplies. Public question No. 3 changes the loan rules so that federal funds can be blended into the loan packages.

A group of unions and businesses formed the Clean Water Coalition to press for approval of the public questions, fearing more that they would be ignored than deliberately rejected.

Coalition chairman Laurence Downes, president of New Jersey Natural Gas Co., said Tuesday the approval of the public questions on water and sewer projects shows voters’ willingness to spend money for clean water.

``Voters of New Jersey have once again demonstrated their conviction that investment in infrastructure benefits both the state’s environment and economy,″ Downes said. ``The results also reaffirm what can be accomplished when business, labor and environmentalists work together.″

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