City Council directed staff Aug. 3 to move ahead and begin preparing the bond proposal to be presented to voters for the November election.
Based on current estimates by Chief Financial Officer Sharen Jackson, the program could generate a capacity between $20 million and $50 million.
“In the last several years, the debt requirements are substantially reduced to ensure that we're not using more than what we could do in the future as related to the capital needs of the city in the out years,” Jackson said.
According to Jackson's presentation, her estimates also take into account no increase in taxes for residents as well as maintaining the city’s AAA bond rating.
“This is not necessarily saddling the city with any more debt,” Southlake Mayor John Huffman said. “This is basically going to function as a line of credit that this council, or future councils, could employ as they see the availability of opportunity.”
The open space and stormwater management bond was first proposed for May 2020 as part of the city’s commitment to preserving open, passive space. However, the bond never made it onto the ticket due to the COVID-19 pandemic delaying the May 2020 election. The topic was once again explored during the council’s 2020 winter and 2021 summer workshops.
As a result, the majority of the proposition language and social media educational campaign is already prepared, despite the short turnaround, said Alison Ortowski, assistant city manager.
Several members of the council—including Huffman as well as Council Members Randy Williamson, Ronnell Smith and Chad Patton—agreed that the demand and need for such a plan are already present and supported the urgency in putting out the bond this November.
“The fact now is that, in addition to what was already going to be on the ballot in November, you also now have a [Carroll ISD special] election that's going to draw attention,” Williamson said. “We have a good likelihood of getting a nice robust turnout to weigh in on [the bond election].”
The deadline to call the bond election is Aug. 16. City Council is expected to hold a special meeting in the coming days to officially call the election.