Cedar Park City Council eyes May bond election for transportation, parks, public safety projects

cedar park city hall exterior
In August, Cedar Park City Council appointed 15 people to a Bond Advisory Task Force. (Taylor Girtman/Community Impact Newspaper)

In August, Cedar Park City Council appointed 15 people to a Bond Advisory Task Force. (Taylor Girtman/Community Impact Newspaper)

Cedar Park City Council may call a May 2022 bond election based on a $125.3 million citizen task force recommendation that includes transportation, public safety and park and recreation projects.

The recommended projects total $125.3 in 2021 dollars, but a final bond package would range from $158.8-162 million because voters will consider bond amounts in future dollars based on inflation and cost escalation over time.

The recommended 2022 bond program would not require a city property tax rate increase, according to the city.

The city’s Bond Advisory Task Force presented its bond package recommendation to Cedar Park City Council Jan. 13.

The 15-member task force met to prioritize, rank and group an initial $200 million capital project list for a final recommendation to present to City Council. Task Force Chair Stephen Thomas said the task force member unanimously agreed on the final recommendation.

Council members may approve the first reading and public hearing of an ordinance to call an election at its Jan. 27 meeting, and the deadline to call a May 7 election is Feb. 18.

What was recommended?

The projects spanned three categories: transportation, parks and recreation and public safety.

The task force considered public facilities projects, but they were ultimately left out of the bond program and recommended for future funding.

Transportation projects totaled $69 million and included:

  • Whitestone Boulevard at 183A Toll innovative (High-Capacity) intersection ($12.9 million)

  • New Hope Drive at 183A Toll innovative (High-Capacity) intersection (design) ($2.2 million)

  • Major road resurfacing ($5 million)

  • Neighborhood road resurfacing ($9.9 million)

  • Turn lane improvements ($5.9 million)

  • Bike and pedestrian improvements ($6.3 million)

  • Anderson Mill Road phase 2 ($11.4 million)

  • Toro Grande North extension ($4.7 million)

  • New Hope Drive expansion from RM 1431 to Lakeline Boulevard ($1.3 million)

  • Lakeline Boulevard ice damage and safety improvements ($2.9 million)

  • Ronald Reagan Boulevard expansion (design) ($1.1 million)

  • Turn signal improvements ($5.9 million)

Parks and recreation projects totaled $32.5 million and included:

  • Lakeline Park phase 2 ($16.4 million)

  • Trail development ($4 million)

  • Veterans Park pool expansion ($7.1 million)

  • Brushy Creek Sports Park athletic field turf improvements ($5 million)

One public safety project was recommended for $23.8 million for the first phase of a public safety training facility. It would be used by the police, fire and emergency management departments, Thomas said.

Additional project details can be found on the city's bond task force webpage.

Council Member Heather Jefts said the directive to the task force was to stay under about $125 million and make sure the task rate did not increase as a result of the recommendation.

“They did exactly that,” Jefts said. “Looking through the recommendations, I don’t know how we cut [$300,000] ... from it at this point. They are all necessary projects.”

Mayor Corbin Van Arsdale said when ballot propositions are approved, it is for funding project types rather than for specific projects.

Council members can still have the final say for a project’s status as long as funding remains in the transportation, parks or public safety funding bucket.

How does a bond work?

Cities can use voter-approved municipal bonds to borrow money to finance large capital improvement projects such as roads, parks or buildings.

Bonds are repaid through the interest and sinking part of property taxes.

Cedar Park voters last approved a bond in 2015 in a $96.7 million program that included projects including the new city library, road improvements, Lakeline Park and public safety building improvements.

The $125.3 million recommendation is based on current year dollars, city finance director Kent Meredith said.

An additional $33.5 to $36.7 million would be needed for inflation and cost escalation over time.

City staff recommended issuance of the bond debt in three sets, each two years apart starting in 2024.

City Manager Brenda Eivens said there would be a more specific dollar amount as the city approaches each of the three bond takedowns, and that amount could be based on the readiness and prioritization of projects.
By Taylor Girtman

Reporter, Cedar Park and Leander

Taylor Girtman became the reporter for the Cedar Park-Leander edition in February 2020. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida.