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Hunt Urges Voters to Pass Water-Sewer Bonds

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OXFORD — Candidates aside, voters must decide on two important and expensive issues at the polls. They will get to vote on two bonds: one to upgrade the state's aging water and sewer systems, the other to extend natural gas lines to new service areas. The price tag of both equals $1 billion.

People in Oxford understand the problem. Last month an old water line broke, draining the town's water supply, and small towns cannot afford to fix the old systems.

"Our rates are high now and I don't know how we could really do what needs to be done without this bond money."

Gov. Jim Hunt is pushing hard across the state for approval of the $800 million bond issue -- a start on $11 billion in water-sewer needs.

"We won't do it all overnight," Hunt said. "This billion dollars will really get this process going so that we can meet a great part of that need."

The Governor also calls for passage of $200 million to provide natural gas to eastern and western counties to help economic growth.

State Treasurer Harlan Boyles does not argue against the needs, but warns of tax increases in the future.

"Our debt level has increased and will have increased from $500 million to $5 billion, and you don't incur that kind of debt without some consequence," Boyles said.

Hunt says the state has the money.

"We had additional income this year of about a billion dollars," Hunt said.

Boyles says the bonds would subsidize programs that should be paid for by users. In the past, federal money has paid for those programs.

Every statewide bond issue since 1961 has been approved by the voters; however, many of them were approved by a slim margin.

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Tom Lawrence, Reporter
Lori Foushee, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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