Hutto outlines $125 million in road, parks projects for possible November bond election

Hutto residents will possibly see three general obligation bond proposals on their ballots in November after City Council voted Thursday to move forward with a bond election.

The propositions, if passed by voters in November, will go towards paying for a combined $125 million in infrastructure, parks and public safety projects.

Council will hear a second reading of the general obligation, or GO, bond propositions before voting to formally put them on the ballot. That reading will occur at Hutto City Council's regularly scheduled Aug. 16 meeting.

The GO bond funds are split into three separate propositions that will appear on the November ballot. The first, Proposition A, outlines $70 million in funds for infrastructure construction including roadways and drainage projects.

Among the projects listed are improvements to the FM 1660 N. and Limmer Loop intersection, the FM 1660 N. and Hwy 79 intersection and the intersection at FM 1660 S. and Front Street.

"We are in the situation where [FM 1660] is in such disrepair," said Hutto City Manager Odis Jones. "The citizens [of Hutto] are coming to our office to do something about it."

Drainage improvements are additionally listed in the proposition language, though an explicit list of drainage projects is not included.

Hutto City Council two weeks ago approved several updated master plan documents for the city including an updated Mobility Master Plan. At that meeting council approved the city's first-ever Drainage Master Plan.

The second GO bond proposition earmarks $5 million for a communications facility for the Hutto Police Department.

"This could serve to increase efficiency," said Helen Ramirez, assistant city manager for the city of Hutto.

Plans for the facility—as outlined in the proposition text—include planning, designing, constructing, purchasing, renovating, repairing, replacing, improving, expanding and equipping the communications facility with audio and visual technology and related software or hardware.

The final possible GO bond proposition in November's election concerns funding for the city's parks.

Proposition C earmarks $50 million for parks project costs related to "constructing, acquiring, improving, renovating, developing and equipping, land, buildings and supporting infrastructure for parks and recreational purposes including renovation of existing parks and recreational facilities, extensions of roadways, trails, parking, and/or drainage facility improvements at or integrated into parks, the purchase of any necessary rights-of-way and related infrastructure".

Prior to the presentation of the GO bond propositions, council was shown the results of a scientific survey conducted by Dr. Thomas Longoria, director of the Center for Research, Public Policy, and Training at Texas State University.

According to the survey results, Hutto residents are in favor of constructing shade structures, sidewalks and trails, picnic tables, water features and playground structures in the city's parks.

The Proposition C language does not list any specific parks projects for the city, though a concept plan for a sports complex was shown to council members at Thursday night's meeting.

"If we look at the survey we have, they’re not big fans of sports fields," said Hutto City Council member Patti Turner.

Council declined to put a $53 million bond proposal on the May 2017 ballot after Jones requested extra time to analyze the city budget and improve Hutto’s credit rating.

A proposition for a $6 million bond was voted down in 2009 by residents. Voters in 2009 approved $8.5 million in GO bonds for streets and $3.3 million in GO bonds for Fritz Park. In that same election, a $6 million bond proposition for a sports complex was shot down by Hutto voters.

The 2009 election remains the first and only time Hutto has held a general obligation bond election, according to Eliska Padilla, public information officer for the city of Hutto.

The deadline for the city of Hutto to outline bond election proposal language is Aug. 20, according to Ramirez. Hutto City Council's Aug. 16 meeting is the last scheduled occasion for the council to approve the GO bond proposition language barring any special meetings.
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.


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