Bonds need voter approval

The Bulletin is misrepresenting Oregon law. It says Deschutes County can sell full faith and credit bonds without voter approval to expand the county jail. This is a misrepresentation of current Oregon law. The county might be able to avoid a vote but it can’t lawfully avoid a referral to the voters.

ORS 287A.001(17) makes any bond that is not a general obligation bond a revenue bond. Revenue bonds must be referred to the voters as defined in ORS 287A.150. If 5 percent of voters sign a petition, the bonds cannot be sold without approval of the voters. And, ORS 287A.315 makes clear a pledge of full faith and credit means a revenue bond could result in a new tax.

The county is relying on ORS 271.390 for issuing the full faith and credit bonds. The words bond and full faith and credit are not in that statute. There is no conceivable way to interpret ORS 271.390 as granting authority for any tax district to pledge full faith and credit under any circumstance.

The only place you will find the words full faith and credit is in ORS Chapter 287A. ORS 271.390 speaks to conventional forms of financing where a default can occur resulting in the repossession of the financed asset. ORS Chapter 287A speaks to public (taxpayer) financing that is secured by a pledge of full faith and credit where there can be no default and no repossession. This interpretation comes from the Oregon state treasurer.

Voting rights keep us free. The Bulletin should not endorse actions of government that take away our rights in violation of Oregon law.

Mike Morgan

Sisters