Costs for Buda facility upgrades presented

Building a new city hall, library and police station could cost as much as $36.4 million, architects said before a Buda advisory committee on May 14.



The committee, made up of community members and charged with carving out a recommended list of projects for a possible November bond issue, was also presented a $22 million option that would place the city hall and library in a shared space and exclude a police station.



"Do they have any that are cheaper?" committee member Colin Strother asked during the presentation.



Buda City Council members previously said $30 million could be a "sweet spot" for voters to approve issuing debt. Financial options presented during the March 18 city council workshop ranged from $10 million to $40 million.



"The City Council is saying their paying threshold is $30 [million for a bond amount]," Strother said. "I've talked to a handful of people who think that if we don't do $40 [million], we're kind of wasting our time. And if we knock $34 million out of that $40 [million], then we're basically not [going to be able to recommend other projects]."



The second-highest option was a 94,000-square-foot centralized city hall, police station and library projected to cost $33.7 million. In addition to considering city facilities, the committee was called upon to recommend projects that would address other areas such as transportation issues, downtown and drainage flaws.



Recommendations for infrastructural and cosmetic improvements in the city's downtown were also presented at the meeting and totaled about $4.5 million.



Gap Strategies, Buda's consulting firm organizing the bond recommendation effort, conducted a community survey through a website dedicated to the possible bond proposal, www.buildingbuda.com. About 79 percent of the respondents said they would support issuing of debt to pay for improvements in Buda. About 5.7 percent responded with a categorical "no." The survey is ongoing.



Committee members expressed concern that voter fatigue could doom Buda's chances of passing a bond at the polls. On May 10 Hays CISD passed a $59.1 million bond to build and renovate schools, among other projects.



"With two bonds this close together, I wonder if it's something we have to think about," committee member Tommy Poer said. But Jeff Barton, a principal of the consulting firm, said because the Hays CISD bond passed without much controversy—and 63 percent approval—he did not expect bond fatigue to set in.



The committee is next slated to convene on May 29. Ahead of a community meeting planned for early June, Barton said the committee ought to have wrapped up concrete recommendations by then. Those who attend the public input meeting will "vote" on which projects they would support by attaching figurative dollars to those projects.



Barton said 30–35 people attended the community meeting April 22. Poer and other committee members asked the firm to do more outreach ahead of the meeting to increase the turnout.

By


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