After more than four years of planning, West Lake Hills residents could see a much-anticipated infrastructure bond of roughly $25 million on the November general election ballot.
In May 2020, residents were set to vote on the first bond since the city’s incorporation in 1953 but council ultimately called off the election amid the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting uncertainties. City Council met virtually July 28 to revisit plans on the once-canceled bond package focused on addressing the city’s critical infrastructure needs.
The package would encompass two propositions. Proposition A would be dedicated to the construction of a new combined City Hall and police building at the site of the existing structure at 911 Westlake Drive. Proposition B could include a list of roadway and drainage projects at Westlake Drive, Yaupon Valley Drive, Eanes Creek, Laurel Valley Road, Redbud Trail and Terrace Mountain Drive.
Prior to its cancellation, both propositions combined totaled $22 million一today, tackling all of the projects would cost roughly $25 million, according to Mayor Linda Anthony, who said the need for these projects has only grown in the last year.
Anthony initially proposed in June removing one of the bond’s most expensive projects一drainage improvements at Eanes Creek Low Water Crossing and Camp Craft Road一to explore state of federal aid options. The crossing near Westlake High School sees frequent flooding in the event of heavy rain and has cost the city roughly $500,000 in repairs thus far. However, as of the July 27 meeting, Anthony suggested keeping the $2.162 million project on the ballot.
“It was identified by the public as one of their highest priorities. It is a public safety issue, it is an expensive project and a complicated one,” Anthony said. “If we wait for grant approval we could be waiting several years.”
A majority of council members said they were in favor of keeping all of the proposed projects in the bond package.
The City Council also discussed the debt service length of the potential bond from 20 to 30 years一a factor that does not need to be decided at the time of the election, according to the city’s financial advisor, Blake Roberts of PFM Financial Advisors LLC.
Council Member Darin Walker said he was in favor of a longer term so residents' tax bills would reflect a minimal change over time.
“We see property values continue to escalate every single year and everyone’s property taxes are going through the roof. I prefer to see as minimal impact as a result of passing this bond,” Walker said.
City Finance Officer Vonda Ragsdale presented the overall estimated tax impact for each debt term length.
"Based on the $25 million package and the average home value at $1.4 million. The 30-year [term] would be a $665 impact, the 25-year would be a $773 and the 20-year an $875," Ragsdale said.
Council's discussion July 28 did not result in any action and the city has until an Aug. 16 deadline to call an election.