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North Port Commissioners inch closer to putting referendum on ballot

They want to be able to issue debt without voter approval.
North Port City Hall
Posted at 7:51 AM, Jul 11, 2024

NORTH PORT, Fla. — The City of North Port is inching closer to placing a referendum on the ballot in the general election.

Commissioners did a first reading on it Tuesday.

The referendum would allow them to alter the city charter to give them the ability to borrow money without voter approval.

City leaders said North Port is the only municipality in the entire state that can't issue debt without asking the voters first.

However, the referendum comes with limitations.

City officials said the charter amendment would apply to declared emergencies or certain safety projects of $15 million or less per project.

City Manager Jerome Fletcher told North Port Community Correspondent Victoria Scott that the city also needs to be able to keep up with growing demands.

"We've created a pay as you go system," Fletcher said. "Unfortunately, in this day and age, it's hard to pay as you go for large-scale infrastructure projects. It's hard to pay for disaster recovery, such as Hurricane Ian, and the city needs to have more tools in the toolbox so that we can react properly to keep the city not only safe, but be able to respond and keep it going and active whether it's our infrastructure, our roads, our streets, our buildings."

The second reading of the ordinance is set for later this month.