Cedar Park City Council falls short on needed votes for drainage election in November

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The option of holding an election to improve drainage issues in Cedar Park will likely wait until May after the City Council fell short of the votes needed Thursday to call for a November election.

Cedar Park City Council has been exploring the possibility of reallocating a portion of sales tax revenue from one of its economic development boards to fund drainage improvements and street repairs in the city.

The discussion comes after House Bill 3045 passed in the Texas Legislature in May. It pairs with legislation from the 2015 session and would let citizens vote on whether to redirect one-eighth of 1 cent from either the Economic Development Corporation, or 4A Board, or the city’s Community Development Corporation Board, or 4B Board, to fund drainage issues.

Per state law, a city cannot exceed a 2 percent sales tax rate. For every 2 cents in sales tax revenue for Cedar Park, 1 cent is allocated into the city’s general fund and a half-cent each into its economic development boards.

In order to put the item on the Nov. 7 ballot, the council had to call an election by Aug. 21.

Council members discussed a possible election during a council retreat in July and during budget discussions at the beginning of August. Council also held two public hearings and readings of the ordinance in August—the last being Thursday evening.

During a joint meeting of the City Council and the 4A Board Thursday night, several 4A members said this was the first time they were briefed as a group on a possible election.

Some council members said there are now several other items from other jurisdictions crowding the November ballot. Some Cedar Park residents could also vote on a $454 million Leander ISD bond, a $185 million Travis County bond or $1 billion Austin ISD bond in November.

Council Member Corbin Van Arsdale said Cedar Park needs to take action on drainage issues, but he said he was not comfortable moving forward with a November election.

“We are going to fix this, and we can devote resources to this right now,” he said. “At the same time, I am thoughtful of everything else that affects the city because if you want taxpayers to buy in and actually pass this, they’ve got to have some level of comfort that we’re looking at everything.”

Cedar Park resident Tim Hudgeons, who lives in the Riviera Springs neighborhood, said he has been coming to City Council meetings for the past two years to continue the discussion of solutions to drainage issues.  He asked the council not to wait another six months to call an election.

“We have infrastructure projects that are known,” he said. “And if we wait another six months, that’s another six months to push it down the road.”

A motion from Mayor Pro Tem Kristyne Bollier to call an election that would redirect the one-eighth of a cent from the city’s 4A Board failed at a vote of 3-3.

Council Member Heather Jefts said Cedar Park needs to have this election but said they need more time to brief both the city’s 4A and 4B boards.

“I want to make sure we get this as clean as possible and as many people [and]stakeholders involved and behind us, because I want to make sure it passes,” she said. “Because I would really, really hate for it to not pass the ballot.”

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Caitlin covers Cedar Park and Leander city councils and reports on education, transportation, government and business news. She is an alumnus of The University of Texas at Austin. Most recently, Caitlin produced a large-scale investigative project with The Dallas Morning News and led education coverage in the Brazos Valley at The Bryan-College Station Eagle. After interning with Community Impact Newspaper for two summers, she joined the staff as a reporter in 2015.
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