League City officials detail drainage, traffic bonds for May 4 election during public meeting

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League City on Feb. 7 hosted the first of several planned meetings to educate the public about three propositions to address flooding and traffic concerns that will be on the May 4 election ballot. 

The first proposition is to approve $73 million worth of bonds to fix drainage. The city has identified $121 million worth of drainage projects through six studies of neighborhoods that flooded the worst during Hurricane Harvey. A total of 21 drainage projects are included in the bonds.

The second is to approve $72 million worth of bonds to address traffic congestion and mobility concerns. A total of 10 traffic projects, including a $5 million extension of the Grand Parkway, are in the bonds.

One project not included in the traffic bonds would be to extend Palomino Lane north over Clear Creek. Landing Boulevard, less than a mile to the east, will be expanded within the next few years, and neighbors near Palomino Lane have protested its extension for over a decade, prompting League City City Council to leave it out of the bonds.

The last time bonds were on a League City ballot was in 1992, said Sarah Greer Osborne, League City’s director of communications and media relations.

Last is a proposition to increase League City’s sales tax rate 0.25 percent for a total of 8.25 percent, a full 2 percent of which would go to the city. If approved, the sales tax rate increase would offset the need to increase property tax rates to afford the $145 million in bonds, city officials said. Officials estimate the sales tax rate increase would bring an additional $3.3 million in revenue during the first year alone.

On the ballot, voters will see Proposition C ask whether they are for or against adopting a local sales tax rate of 1.25 percent. One percent of the sales tax rate in League City goes to the city’s general fund, and the proposal would increase it 0.25-1.25 percent. State law requires ballot language to state the proposed sales tax rate, not the increase, city officials said.

If all three propositions pass, the city’s property tax rate will hardly be affected, if at all. Officials predict if both bonds pass but the sales tax rate does not, property tax rates will increase $0.014 per $100 valuation, or about $28 for a $250,000 home. 

If the first two propositions fail, League City would be restricted by law from issuing alternative debt to pay for the projects. It would be up to City Council whether the city could go out to voters for restructured bonds or pay in cash those projects it could afford, City Manager John Baumgartner said.

Osborne said more projects cannot be added if the bonds are passed.

“We can’t add other projects,” she said. “This is the final list of projects. …”

However, if the city gets additional money from other revenue sources or some projects cost less than expected, the city could end up with extra funds to use on other projects, Osborne said.

Baumgartner said the average timeline for such projects is three years, if things run smoothly.

“We project this program to be a five- to seven-year program from beginning to end,” he said.

Osborne pointed out the drainage bonds will not address regional solutions to flooding. League City officials are putting together possible regional solutions with plans to bring them before various watershed steering committees. Such solutions will total in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and that initiative will not take root for five to 10 years, Baumgartner said.

Early voting runs April 22-26 and April 29-30. Visit www.leaguecity.com/election2019 for more information.

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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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