BY KELLEY BOUCHARD
Portland Press Herald
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 just more than 20 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night.
Voters faced four referendum questions 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 71,468 to 70,033, with 51 percent opposed to 49 percent in favor.
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 87,334 to 55,073, with 61 percent in favor and 39 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 103,189 to 39,102, 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 89,682 to 51,686, with 63 percent in favor and 37 percent opposed.