Getting to “Yes” with Referendum Planning

Posted in Work on May. 21, 2018

Approaching a referendum

Passing referenda for improvements is not easy – especially given today’s electoral environment. The best approach is “winning before you start.” That means using the planning process to create the capacity for a successful election. It’s more than picking the “right” election cycle! How do you build the capacity to win?

Archimages has provided bond issuance assistance to numerous municipalities and school districts throughout the years. We’ve learned what can positively affect the efforts associated with referendum planning. Below are the some of the steps that are consistent with building a strong approach for a proposed referendum.

Define your referendum team

Who are your intellectual resources? Select your internal referendum team members (staff, administrators, etc.) and your external referendum team members (community leaders, active citizens, parental support, etc.). Having your team members in place prior to engaging the architect will establish a sense of responsibility, spark pre-project imagination and conversation, and prime the members for the upcoming task.

Understand your financing options

Consult with your legal and financial advisors to understand the financing mechanisms available to you. What method will you use? Bond, tax increase, etc? The mechanism you choose helps to define the architectural effort. For example, if you choose to utilize a bond, time line parameters will automatically be established (April, August, or November).

Be sure of what you need

Have a clear understanding of your current facilities and their capacity to serve your needs. Do you need a new structure or will a redesign of space use within the current facility provide the answer? Engage a qualified architect to conduct a facility assessment and space needs analysis to provide a clear understanding of the project extent and a solid base from which to start planning.

Transform needs into vision

With the need defined, begin to create the vision with your architect through collaborative work sessions. Be sure to include key client decision makers and facility users to ensure consensus within the organization. This vital step provides the architect with robust information regarding genuine wants and needs. The results are concrete visual illustrations that fully embody the conceptual vision.

Begin early education

Begin your public knowledge campaign early. It not only tells the public what the proposed facility will be, but also allows the public to have a say on planning the final product. Moreover, early public contact allows for the management of public expectations and provides project transparency. Elements of this step include town hall meetings and the use of clear graphics to powerfully communicate the client’s needs.

Archimages has recently assisted the Festus School District, Hillsboro School District, City of Olivette, and City of Rock Hill with the above steps to achieve successful passage of bond propositions.

If you would like to know more details about getting to “yes” with referendum planning, please contact Christine Ward at
(314) 965-7445 or