City debt at center of mayoral race

How much debt is too much for a city to ask taxpayers to cover? That question is a hot topic in one local community where a mayoral candidate is hoping to unseat a 52-year incumbent by using the city’s multi-million dollar debt as the her platform.

“The city at large, people within the community had no idea what our city debt, what level we were at,” said Ann Colborn.

Colborn says after hearing incumbent Mayor Bob Butler explain the debt, she decided to fact check.

“I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request and actually discovered that it was $58 million-plus. The mayor had quoted $46 million just a few days prior to that.”

At a news conference Thursday, City Councilman Anthony Rinella came to the defense of Mayor Butler, and the city’s finances.

“Marion is paying down their bond,” said Rinella. “I refer to it as investment instead of indebtedness.”

“A bond still translates to debt,” said Colburn. “We are going to be responsible for paying that debt.”

“I think people need to ask themselves: Has Marion progressed or regressed?” said Rinella. “That answer is very simple: Marion has progressed.”

The City of Marion recently received a AA- bond rating from Standard & Poors, which praised the city for its cash management.

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