Two Sioux Falls residents who oppose a $33 million bond issue recently approved by city officials are gathering signatures to place the issue before voters.

Dan Alexander, the city's accountant, said that the Sioux Falls' City Commission last month passed the bond issue to finance construction of a convention center and renovation of an abandoned high school for an arts and science center.

Organizers for the petition drive could not be reached for comment. However, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader newspaper reported that the two residents spearheading the signature drive believe that city residents have a right to vote on the bond issue, and that costs for the project could exceed city projections.

Under city law, opponents of the bond issue can place the issue on a ballot if they gather 3,100 signatures by Aug. 26.

Ray Woodsend, a vice president and manager at Dougherty, Dawkins, Strand & Bigelow Inc., the underwriter for the bond issue, said that if enough signatures are gathered, the referendum would probably be held around Oct. 12.

Woodsend said that Sioux Falls officials' original plan is to sell the bonds in September.

If sold, the bonds would be retired with proceeds from the city's entertainment sales tax, which raises about $2.3 million annually. The bonds would also be backed by the city's general sales tax if the entertainment revenues fall short.

The bond issue would be the largest in Sioux Falls' history and the second largest city issue ever in the state, Woodsend said.

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