Richardson nears end of $115 million bond program, ramps up planning for potential 2021 package

Deputy City Manager Don Magner briefed council on the city's progress in finishing the 2015 bond program while planning for the 2021 package at a July 20 meeting. (Courtesy Citizen Information Television)
Deputy City Manager Don Magner briefed council on the city's progress in finishing the 2015 bond program while planning for the 2021 package at a July 20 meeting. (Courtesy Citizen Information Television)

Deputy City Manager Don Magner briefed council on the city's progress in finishing the 2015 bond program while planning for the 2021 package at a July 20 meeting. (Courtesy Citizen Information Television)

City officials in Richardson are wrapping up projects from the 2015 bond program while simultaneously planning for the next referendum, tentatively scheduled for November 2021.

The last municipal bond was approved in 2015. Projects in the $115 million program were parceled out over a six-year period and covered improvements to public buildings, streets, parks and sidewalks.

“Every part of the community was touched by the bond program in one way or another,” Deputy City Manager Don Magner said at a July 20 council meeting.

Two of the major projects still in the pipeline are enhancements to the public library and City Hall. The city was fortunate, Magner said, to have waited until the end of the 2015 program to advance on these plans, as many decisions about improvements will likely have to be made with new safety and hygiene guidelines in mind.

“The timing is really fortuitous if we are going to do some things to [make the projects COVID-19]-proof,” he said.

Staff will bring forth recommendations for these buildings in October, Magner added.

Seven remaining street projects from the 2015 program are either in the design phase or under construction, Magner said. One of the major projects includes improvements to Custer Road between Campbell and Arapaho roads and along Prairie Creek Drive from Campbell to Collins Boulevard.

Initial cost estimates have changed since they were developed in 2014, Magner said. This is due both to scope changes and inflation, he said. To complete the remaining road project, the city will have to pay an additional $7.5 million more than originally budgeted.

“We had no idea the kind of inflation that we were going to experience as a result of the crazy, robust economy we have had in North Texas, so we are seeing a pinch on some of the Year 5 and 6 projects,” Magner said.

Another $625,000 will be needed for renovations to the Richardson Senior Center, and $2.5 million will be needed to finish construction on the new Richardson Public Safety Campus, Magner said.

Just over a year remains until the city plans to bring its next bond package to voters. Staff chose November 2021 for the election because there are few other competing races, Magner said.

“It really provides the public with the opportunity to ... educate themselves about the different propositions and choices before them,” he said.

For the next several months, staff will work with council members to refine potential projects for the 2021 bond, Magner said. Recommendations for improvements will come from several ongoing studies into the improvement of streets, traffic signals, drainage infrastructure, parks, buildings and more, he said.

Budget constraints brought on by COVID-19 will be taken into consideration when deciding which projects are in the best interest of the city’s bottom line, Magner said.

“Unlike previous bond programs, ... we will have to continue to really focus on operational recurring costs of any decisions we make in terms of capital and what that might mean for year-in, year-out budgeting,” he said.

Propositions will be finalized between May and July of 2021. If voters approve the package in November 2021, projects would begin in 2022 and last through 2026.
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.


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