Editor’s note: The graphic attached to this article has been updated to better reflect the categories of projects that would be funded by the street improvements proposition.
The majority of city employees are spread out in different offices downtown, something officials say is inefficient.
The city of McKinney spends more than $650,000 annually on rent because staff outgrew the existing City Hall years ago. Only three departments still operate out of the 1950s-era building.
Funds to help build a new municipal community complex are among five bond proposals set to go before voters in May. The municipal complex proposition seeks $50 million for what is estimated to be an $85 million project. If approved by voters, the new complex would be six times the size of the existing City Hall and house nine city departments.
Other propositions on the ballot would fund various projects for public safety, parks and recreation, public works and street improvements.
Mayor George Fuller said a bond is necessary to keep up with the population growth.
McKinney has seen a population increase of more than 65,000 residents in the past 10 years and is expected to grow by another 100,000 people in the next 20 years, according to the city.
“I highly promote [the bond], and I highly advocate for it,” Fuller said. “We are a fast-growing city with tremendous needs.”
If the bonds pass, residents’ property taxes would not change, City Manager Paul Grimes said.
“The proposed bond package would be within our existing borrowing capacity without having to raise taxes,” Grimes said.
Election day is May 4. Early voting will run from April 22-30.
Some of the bond projects have been on the city’s to-do list for a long time now.
When the city’s general fund was evaluated in August, staff determined $450 million worth of capital improvement projects were left without funding. In addition, the remaining funds from a 2015 bond are scheduled to be spent on transportation needs by the end of the year, Grimes said.
In October, City Council appointed a group of 35 residents to serve as members on bond committees.
Recommendations from the committees included $350 million worth of projects. This ask includes
$91 million for parks and recreation, $100 million for street improvements, $75 million for public safety, $50 million for a new municipal complex and $34 million for public works.
A new senior recreation center is at the top of the parks and recreation department’s priority list, said Michael Kowski, director of parks and recreation. The McKinney Senior Recreation Center has experienced overcrowding issues for several years. The center was built in 2002 to accommodate about 100 annual members and now has more than 3,000 members.
If the public safety proposition is approved in May, potential projects include an expansion to the public safety building as well as land acquisitions for new fire stations.
Another proposition would fund improvements to the public works facility. The public works department encompasses various city divisions, such as water, wastewater, streets, facilities and construction maintenance. The facility houses these divisions as well as equipment and more than 800 fleet vehicles.
The construction of new streets and the reconstruction of existing roadways are covered in another proposition.
“These are the things we really need; there is really no fluff in this bond election,” said Lisa Hermes, McKinney Chamber of Commerce president and bond committee member.
A campaign in support of the bond election, called For My McKinney, has been launched by Hermes and the McKinney chamber. Its focus is to educate voters on the importance of the bond projects, Hermes said.
However, not all residents support the bond, including McKinney resident Cathy Forrest. She said she believes governments waste too much money and she never votes for bonds.
“With the surge of growth and the influx of so much more property tax, I believe that the city and county can be better stewards of our tax money and can fund their projects without a bond,” Forrest said in a message to Community Impact Newspaper on social media site Nextdoor.
Municipal Community Complex
Should voters approve the $50 million bond proposition, nine city departments will relocate to the new complex. The idea is to have all city departments in one location.
“We are the only city of our size anywhere in this area with no proper City Hall,” Grimes said. “It’s an inefficient way of delivering municipal services.”
If passed, the bond would help pay for a portion of the complex. The city hopes to fund the rest through public-private partnerships, savings and other means, Grimes said.
“We shouldn’t be [paying rent],” Fuller said. “We should own the property and be building equity for the city. … We have property on The Square that’s being used as [an office for]human resources, and that should be a retail store, generating sales tax dollars for the city.”
The complex is expected to make the surrounding area a major commercial development destination.
A location has not been determined yet, but there have been discussions on redeveloping the area near the Flour Mill on the far east side of McKinney, Grimes said.
“If we built city hall there, it could catalyze a great new redevelopment … but the council has not weighed in on it yet,” he said. “We do not have a location yet … but we have options.”