Georgetown City Council cuts bond proposal by more than half

City Council directed staff at its Jan. 27 meeting to draft a $96 million bond proposal that could go before voters on May 9.

The Georgetown 2015 Road Bond Committee recommended to the council a list of 11 projects that could be completed during the next 10 years. The committee decreased the amount from an initial Jan. 13 proposal of 22 projects totaling $220 million based on feedback from City Council.

"We drive these streets daily and we know that we are in trouble right now," bond committee chairman Tom Crawford said at the councils Jan. 13 meeting. "In 15 short years, our population is going to double in this city. Can you imagine, if we don't do something, what Williams Drive is going to be like in less than 15 years? Its going to be basically gridlocked unless we do something to get some of the traffic rerouted some other place."

Proposed projects include the extension of Rivery Boulevard from Williams Drive to Northwest Boulevard; a Northwest Boulevard bridge spanning I-35 and connecting to Austin Ave.; and portions of Wolf Ranch Parkway and the Southwest Bypass. Other projects could include sidewalk and intersection improvements.

Councilman Tommy Gonzalez on Jan. 13 told the committee to focus on projects that could be completed in the next five to seven years.

"The only thing I want from staff is their best assurance that they can get these projects started in the next 10 years," he said.

Georgetown Transportation Director Ed Polasek said of the eight proposed construction projects, five are in the final design phase.

"The front half is ready to go, and that will give [staff] time to get the back half ready to go," he said.

Financial Analyst Paul Diaz said if the $96 million in bonds were issued by 2026, the city's tax rate could increase by 9.93 cents, or by about 1.53 cents a year. However, Chief Financial Officer Micki Rundell said once bond proposal is approved by the council, the city would be able to determine a contract with voters that would outline the maximum annual tax impact.

"[The contract with the voters] gives voters a comfort level of what to expect from a tax impact in the future," she said.

To have the bond appear on the May 9 ballot, City Council must call the bond election by Feb. 24, Rundell said.