School bond and tax elections in Virginia

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School bond and tax elections in Virginia happen under two circumstances:
  • To issue new bonds.
  • To extend current bonds after a eight year waiting period.

Laws affection school finance

Virginia Constitution

Virginia is different from other states as their state government is run under a "Dillon Rule." Under the Dillon Rule, local governments only have powers that are specifically granted by the legislature.[1] The rule is specified in the Virginia Constitution under Article X, Section 4. This means all property is taxed only at the local level and no property taxes are imposed at the state level. In addition, counties and cities have specified and limited authority in what they can levy taxes for. Cities and counties can only impose excise taxes on certain licenses, the recordation of property, wills, lodging (transient occupancy) and the consumer use of utilities. Cities only have the authority to levy excise taxes on cigarettes, admissions, meals, and travel campgrounds.[2]

Virginia bond issue law

Under Virginia law, school bonds that are issued by counties are not subject to any tax ceiling limit. However, they must take the issue to a ballot question for voter approval, but school bond issued by local government are not required to have a ballot question to issue bonds that come from the Virginia Public School Authority or to receive a Literary Fund loan.[3] A bond referendum is required if the county is issuing bonds on behalf of two or more school divisions in the respective county that they are located in.[4] A bond election is not required if the bond is coordinated by the municipality and the school district.[5]

Under Virginia law, school districts can issue bonds for any capital improvement that is specifically stated in the resolution that calls for a issuance of new bonds.[6] Extensions for new bonds via a ballot question is only allowed eight years after passage of a ballot question to issue new bonds.[7]

Virginia Public Finance Act of 1991

The Virginia Public Finance Act of 1991 clarifies the authority of the Virginia Constitution if school districts are required to hold ballot questions on the issuance of new bonds or to extend a existing bond that was first approved by the voters.[8]

The purpose of the law was to ease ambiguities that the Virginia Constitution has placed in the constitution about the intent of its bond issue laws.

Conduct of the bond election, limitations, rules

Authority conducting elections

The local unit of government (county or municipal) that is planning to issue the bonds is responsible for conducting the election.[9]

Election dates

Any bond election can be held during a general, primary, or a special election within the allowable parameters set by the Code of Virginia.[10]

Needed majority

A simple majority is all that is needed to pass a bond issue referendum in the Commonwealth of Virginia.[11]

Special elections

Under Virginia law, school districts within their authority under the Virginia Constitution can hold special elections in regards to bonds. The law requires that special elections must be held on Tuesdays and no special election can be held 55 days prior to a general or primary election as they are not allowed on the same day as a primary election. A special election can be held on the same day as a general election as long there is 55 days notice at minimum.[12] If any bond referendum fails, four years must elapse before another subsequent referendum is held.[13]

Wording of measures

Under Virginia law, all ballot questions must be in plain English and not exceed 500 words in length.[14] Ballot measures must be formatted like this for bond elections.

"(Here state briefly the question submitted)

Required notice of bond election

All referendum elections are requested via an order from a circuit court judge in Virginia. For regular elections, a referendum must be held within 60 days after the judge's order. For Special elections, 55 days must elapse at minimum after a judge's order and the actual date of election.[16]

See also

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References

  1. "NCES" Virginia School Funding Laws(See Page 3)
  2. "Virginia General Assembly" The Constitution of Virginia(Referenced Section Article X, Section 4)
  3. "Virginia General Assembly" The Code of Virginia(Referenced Statute § 22.1-167 Code of Virginia)
  4. "Justia" The Code of Virginia(Referenced Statute § 15.2-2642 Code of Virginia)
  5. "Virginia General Assembly" The Code of Virginia(Referenced Statute § 22.1-166 Code of Virginia)
  6. "Virginia General Assembly" The Code of Virginia(Referenced Statute § 22.1-166 Code of Virginia)
  7. "Justia" The Code of Virginia(Referenced Statute § 15.2-2611 Code of Virginia)
  8. "Justia" The Code of Virginia(Referenced Statute § 15.2-2642 Code of Virginia)
  9. "Justia" Virginia Public Finance Act of 1991(Referenced Statute 15.2-2611 Code of Virginia)
  10. "Justia" Virginia Election Law(Referenced Statute 24.2-101 Code of Virginia, See Definitions of General, Primary, and Special Election)
  11. "Justia" Local Finance Act of 1991(Referenced Statute 15.2-2611 Code of Virginia)
  12. "Virginia General Assembly" Virginia Election Law(Referenced Statute 24.2-682)
  13. "Virginia General Assembly" Virginia Election Law(Referenced Statute 22.1-46)
  14. [http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+24.2-687 "Virginia Legislature" Virginia Election Law" Referenced Statute 24.2-687 Code of Virginia)
  15. [http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+24.2-684 "Virginia Legislature" Virginia Election Law" Referenced Statute 24.2-684 Code of Virginia)
  16. "Virginia General Assembly" Virginia Election Law(Referenced Statute 24.2-682)