If called, the bond referendum is also likely to include money for parks, but that portion of the bond is not as far along in the development process.
Buda’s last bond election was in 2014, and taxpayers approved $55 million to build a municipal facility and public safety facility while also providing for street, drainage and park improvements.
With funds and projects from the previous referendum in short supply after seven years, Assistant City Manager Micah Grau said city leadership believes it is an opportune time for new projects and funding.
The Buda Bond Advisory Committee was tasked by City Council with outlining what a new bond package should look like.
The city also hired Gap Strategies to consult on the bond package and facilitate conversations with residents about their priorities and what should be included.
Some residents who responded to a 2020 survey conducted by Texas State University voiced concerns over debt incurred by bond elections, but Grau said the city economy had remained strong through the pandemic.
“We’re certainly cognizant and aware of the financial impacts of COVID-19 and what is happening to individual families here, but we are still seeing a robust economy here in Buda,” Grau said. “Our sales tax numbers are strong. Our hotel occupancy tax numbers were probably impacted the most, but they’re starting to rebound as well.”
Gap Strategies co-founder Jeff Barton also noted a much more substantial number of participants voiced support for the projects in spite of potential tax increases.
For the 2014 bond, there was a projected tax rate increase of $0.135 per $100 of assessed property value. However, Grau said the actual tax rate increase from the election was less than $0.05 due to increased property values, growth and other factors.
According to Barton, new properties developed in the city will provide some protection from tax rate increases through new tax revenue.
Grau said the city could issue as much as $50 million in bonds without triggering a tax increase.
“Looking to the future, it may make sense to go beyond that threshold in ways that could create a small increase in taxes now in order to both prepare for the future and prevent a larger increase later down the road,” Barton said.
There are $63,385,000 in road and drainage projects with projected costs listed in city documents and nine others without prices. This total is also missing the cost of any parks projects, which could include new parks or improvements to existing ones.
However, the list of projects has not been finalized and is still subject to change. City Council will receive an update on the bond package June 15, and the BBAC will hold more meetings to refine the list of projects and their priority.
The biggest draw on funding would be reconstruction and maintenance of roads across 12 projects. Among them are the reconstruction of Cole Springs Road for $14.3 million, Old Goforth Road and Old FM 2001 for $6.8 million, and Old Black Colony Road for $6.1 million.
There are also safety improvements to the downtown railroad crossing for $8.4 million. Downtown streetscape improvements are budgeted at $1.23 million.
Additional meetings in late June, July and early August will further develop the project list. Information about the meetings can be found on the city’s website.
City Council must call the election by Aug. 16 but will likely do so Aug. 3 if the bond referendum is to move forward, Barton said.
“[Buda] continues to be one of the fastest-growing cities in Texas,” he said. “This [bond referendum] helps catch the city up, but also the city is trying to plan ahead for the growth they expect to come and they’re seeing in the pipeline.”