No formal action was taken at the Oct. 18 meeting, but City Council members advised city staff to begin drafting the necessary paperwork and council resolutions. An official vote is expected to take place in November or December.
Both the Jersey Meadow Golf Club convention center and a new City Hall were high-priority items in Jersey Village’s 2020 comprehensive plan, but council members agreed the golf course convention center is a higher priority at this time. Council Member Michelle Mitcham said she believes this project, which would host events and feature a restaurant, would be a great revenue generator for the city.
In addition to the convention center, additional expenses at this site include $450,000 for parking lot improvements; $100,000 for natural gas for restaurant use; $1.5 million for a new golf course maintenance facility; $450,000 for a new cart barn; and $250,000 for work on the back nine holes.
City Hall, which is estimated to cost $10.5 million, has been planned for the city’s Village Center property, but a construction timeline has not been set, City Manager Austin Bleess said. He proposed either spending about $300,000 to remodel the current facility to address mold, plumbing and other issues or having the city rent or purchase commercial space where city employees can work in the meantime before a permanent City Hall is completed.
“I do think regardless of what we do, I think that is a very good project to pursue. I think it’s something that’s long overdue,” Mayor Bobby Warren said. “We’ve been asking our employees of the city to work in extraordinarily substandard space for a long time.”
Bleess said he would feel comfortable recommending no more than $7.5 million of the city’s cash on hand go toward either of these projects. This would pull some money from a vehicle and equipment replacement fund, the capital improvement fund and the general fund, leaving about 120 days of reserves in the bank, he said.
During the Oct. 18 meeting, Council Member James Singleton said while he is supportive of the convention center, he feels with the cash on hand available to the city, the bond is not the right move. Council Member Drew Wasson said he is against bonds, but if the council decides to move forward with the election, he wants the amount to be as minimal as possible.
Council Member Sheri Sheppard said in addition to giving the residents a say in the bond via an election, she believes the timing is right for the city. The city’s financial adviser has reported record-low interest rates on bonds.
“I've always had the perspective that if it's inexpensive to borrow money, then it's better to go that route as opposed to spending everything that you have within your savings because you never know when you may have an emergency,” Sheppard said. “As long as the cost of borrowing that money is within your means, ... I think from a timing perspective, it would be smarter to go the bond route than trying to cobble together money from various different places and potentially leave us in a vulnerable position.”