League City City Council approves $145 million May bond election to address drainage, traffic problems

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On May 4, League City residents will decide more than just what Clear Creek ISD board members will represent the district.

With almost no discussion, League City City Council on Jan. 22 voted to approve putting on the May ballot a $145 million bond—$73 million for drainage issues and $72 million for mobility problems.

The ballot will also ask voters to approve a 0.25 percent sales tax rate increase to help supplement the cost.

League City has an 8 percent sales tax with 1.75 percent going to the city. If increased to 8.25 percent, the maximum allowed under state law, a full 2 percent would go toward the city, City Manager John Baumgartner said.

If the sales tax rate increase is approved, the $145 million bond will not increase the city’s property tax rate, city officials have said.

The $145 million price tag is smaller than the city originally proposed. In October, city officials touted a $230 million bond to build a new library, council chambers, fire station and more.

By December, the potential bond cost had reached $250 million as city officials refined cost estimates.

With an annual budget of about $207 million, officials realized a $250 million bond was too much for residents to take on at once. Through various workshops and public meetings, the city pared the bond down to $145 million by eliminating everything but drainage and traffic projects.

Council Member Todd Kinsey made a motion to amend the reading to allow the election to include bonds for a new gun range and library and let the voters decide what they would support. Residents would not support bonds for either project, according to a recent survey.

The bond does not include every drainage and traffic problem identified in the city. After Hurricane Harvey, the city hired engineers to study half a dozen neighborhoods that flooded the most and found $121 million worth of projects.

League City has also identified about $88.5 million worth of traffic improvements. One proposed project that would expand Palomino Lane north over Clear Creek costs about $17 million—nearly 20 percent of all mobility projects. Considering its cost and how neighbors near Palomino have been pushing for years against the idea to expand the road, city staff recommended pulling the project from the bond.

In other business

League City City Council on Jan. 22 voted in favor of a resolution granting additional time to pay bills to employees and contractors furloughed by the government shutdown.

Under the resolution, League City will waive late payment penalties for nondiscretionary services to residents who prove they are federal employees. The city’s utility billing department has compiled a list of residents who are federal employees and will add residents on a case-by-case basis.

Nick Long and Hank Dugie were the only two council members to vote against the motion, saying it was unfair to give a break to some people out of work but not others.

“We can’t bend the rules for one set of individuals and then enforce it on another,” Long said.

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Jake Magee
Jake Magee has been a print journalist for a few years, covering topics such as city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be an editor with Community Impact. In his free time, Magee enjoys playing video games, jamming on the drums and bass, longboarding and petting his cat.
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