Bond planning ramps up in Richardson

bond planning
City officials are taking steps toward a potential bond election in November 2021. (Courtesy Fotolia)

City officials are taking steps toward a potential bond election in November 2021. (Courtesy Fotolia)

City officials are taking steps toward a potential bond election in November 2021.

The last bond in Richardson was approved by voters in 2015. The proposition totaled $115 million and was parceled out over a six-year serial sale program. The final sale will occur in early 2021, said Deputy City Manager Don Magner, who briefed City Council on staff’s bond development progress at a Dec. 16 meeting.

Magner explained that November 2021 is the ideal time for voters to decide on the next bond proposition because there are no other major elections scheduled for that time. A state constitutional amendments election may be held, he said, but the calendar is otherwise open.

Holding bonds during a period when there are no federal or state elections on the ballot is crucial in ensuring community engagement and awareness, Magner explained.

“Quite frankly, these bond elections kind of get lost in those,” he said. “So we try to find a way that we really can let the community focus on the issues and the questions before them.”

Discussions about which areas the city would like to study for potential bond projects began last summer, Magner said. So far, three studies have been launched, including one on the condition of streets and alleys; a study on erosion and urban lakes; and an analysis of the city’s fleet vehicles.

At the Dec. 16 meeting, staff announced that they are about to launch a study that looks at the needs of the City Hall/Civic Center building and the library. Both are at least 50 years old and have never undergone significant updates outside of regular maintenance, Magner said.

The city has brought in two firms—Architexas and Holzman Moss Bottino—to assess the condition of the building’s primary systems, such as electrical, mechanical, plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

In early January, members from the consultant teams will interview council members and library stakeholders to better understand how space is being used as well as the future needs of the buildings. The firms should have design options and preliminary cost estimates ready for council by April, Magner said.

Other areas staffers are studying for potential bond projects include improvements to infrastructure and parks. They are also considering including projects that would enhance the Main Street redevelopment and Collins-Arapaho Innovation District efforts.

Mayor Paul Voelker acknowledged infrastructure and facilities in need of upkeep, but he said staff and council will have to carefully consider funding challenges caused by Senate Bill 2, which caps the amount of property tax dollars cities can collect. He compared the city’s predicament to what school districts face when they build new schools but do not have enough funding to hire new teachers.

“We can maybe build some things, but can we actually operate and maintain them?” he said.
By Olivia Lueckemeyer
Olivia Lueckemeyer graduated in 2013 from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in journalism. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 as reporter for the Southwest Austin edition before her promotion to editor in March 2017. In July 2018 she returned home to the Dallas area and became editor of the Richardson edition.