Following engineering firm evaluations, bond advisory reports and a previous delay, West Lake Hills City Council unanimously voted to move forward with its potential $22 million capital improvements bond, which will appear on the May 2 ballot.
“This is something we’ve been working towards for nearly four years,” Mayor Linda Anthony said. “These are not unreasonable or grandiose requests, and we’ve tried to keep our numbers as low as possible.”
The full bond package includes a list of the city’s critical infrastructure needs, encompassing two propositions. Proposition A totaling $12 million is dedicated to the construction of a new combined City Hall and police building, and Proposition B totaling $10 million is dedicated to a list of roadway and drainage projects.
A decision was made by the council to round up the initial estimates, which were $12 million for the municipal building and $10 million for the roadway and drainage list. This decision is due to city officials wanting to ensure they have enough funds to complete the projects, with Mayor Linda Anthony noting that the city is not obligated to use all allotted funds.
The new municipal building, designed by architecture firm Brinkley Sargent Wiginton will be located at City Hall’s current address, 911 Westlake Drive. The building will feature necessary spatial and accessible upgrades, according to an assessment from Brinkley Sargent Wiginton.
The list of pavement and drainage projects include Redbud Trail, Westlake Drive, Laurel Valley Road and Yaupon Valley Road, Terrace Mountain Drive and a drainage project on the Eanes Creek low water crossing.
During the meeting, council members received an update on the bond’s financial implications from bond counsel members Blake Roberts and Jerry Kyle.
Within the discussion, council members leaned toward a 20-year repayment term for the bond, which could potentially result in a tax increase of $0.065, though no official decision was made. The tax implications would ultimately be determined by a variety of factors, including whether both propositions are passed.
“We’ve enjoyed the benefits of a very, very low tax rate for along time,” Anthony said, arguing that keeping up with all of West Lake Hills’ infrastructure needs is not possible at the current tax rate of $0.70 per $100 valuation. Anthony noted that even if the bond passes, the property taxes in West Lake Hills will still be among the lowest in Texas.
The city’s bond advisory committee also suggested a 20-year term, which would provide future city council members with the flexibility to complete capital improvement projects down the line, Council Member Jim O’Connor said.
The ordinance to call the election also highlights a maximum estimate of a 4% interest rate on the bond, which the city is not bound to, according to Blake Roberts, a financial adviser, who called this a high estimate above the current market rate.
Anthony also spoke to the bond’s previous delay saying, “We were going to go out [for a bond] last November, but we didn’t think we were ready. I think we’re ready now.”
Early voting will begin April 20 and run through April 28 prior to the May 2 election date.