Baltimore City is such a Democratic stronghold that general elections usually are mere ratifications of one-party rule. But electing the city's top officials -- from mayor to City Council members -- is only one purpose of the Nov. 5 election. Equally important are the 11 bond questions on which voters must pass judgment.
Much of the city's progress might stall without this capital borrowing package totaling $35 million and a $20 million general-obligation bond to cover future insurance liabilities.
Question A would authorize the city to borrow $8 million for community development projects in a number of Baltimore neighborhoods.
Question B would allow the non-profit Community Development Financing Corp. to borrow $4 million to finance the restoration of abandoned and vacant houses.
Question C would pay for $1 million worth of improvements, from weatherproofing to upgraded lighting, heating and ventilation, at 17 senior centers scattered throughout the city.
Question D would channel $8.5 million into the city's economic development efforts at the 150-acre Port Covington Business Park in South Baltimore as well as launch initiatives near the Memorial Stadium area and a business area at Cold Spring Lane and the Jones Falls Expressway.
Question E asks for $1 million to continue removing asbestos from city-owned buildings.
Question F would permit the Fire Department to consolidate two outdated stations and build a new $2 million facility to serve South Baltimore.
Question G asks voters to approve $4.5 million for the replacement of the old Northern District Police Station in Hampden.
Question H would give the city $6 million to supplement state funds earmarked for repairs at more than a dozen schools.
Question I would give the city the option to issue $20 million of general-obligation bonds to supplement Baltimore's self-insurance program against liability claims. This is a cautionary request to cover future emergencies; the self-insurance fund, established in 1986, currently has a positive cash balance.
In addition to these bond requests, two other questions would give the city flexibility in fiscal maneuvering:
Question J would let the city retire old general-obligation bonds bearing high interest rates and issue low-interest bonds instead. This step would enable the city to restructure its debt and save money.
Question K, a companion measure, would give the Board of Finance added flexibility in determining interest rates for bonds and in deciding the most appropriate method for selling bonds.
The Sun recommends that voters approve every one of the above ballot questions.