Voters in Harris County will have a chance to weigh in this November on a proposal that calls for repurposing the Astrodome. Commissioners court voted unanimously Aug. 13 to place the item—which will require a future tax increase—on the ballot for public approval.

If approved, the measure would allow the county to issue up to $217 million in bonds to finance the redesign and redevelopment of the Astrodome. The exact tax increase amount necessary to pay off the bonds has not been determined, but could be about half a cent.

The county’s budget office recommended the future tax increase after studying the existing debt. Since 2000, Harris County has installed a large amount of infrastructure due to population growth. Those infrastructure additions brought the county’s debt to about $2.5 billion, but did not require a tax increase, county budget officer Bill Jackson said. Additionally, the county lowered the tax rate by a penny during that time period.

For property owners who qualify for a homestead exemption—including Cy-Fair ISD residents—the tax increase for a $200,000 home would be about $8 annually if the measure is approved, Jackson said. The increase would most likely take affect in 2015.

In June, the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation unveiled the proposal for the Astrodome, dubbed the New Dome Experience. The plan calls for redeveloping the nearly 50-year-old facility and turning it into a space for community and sporting events, festivals and conferences. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo could also utilize the facility for its activities.

If voters approve the ballot measure, the repurposing will take about 30 months to complete, which would be in time for Houston to host the 2017 Super Bowl at Reliant Park.

“For all those who care about the future of the Dome one way or the other, go forth,” County Judge Ed Emmett said. “It’s important for people pro and con to start looking into the details and talking about it as an issue. It will be a fascinating process to watch.”

For more details about the upcoming bond election, see Community Impact Newspaper’s Sept. 19 edition.


 
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