By Betsy Dolan
The Missouri City City Council heard recommendations from the Bond Exploratory Committee (BEC)regarding how a $40 million bond proposal, slated for May, would be spent.
The council will discuss the recommendations and provide a final blueprint for the bond proposal in February.
Former city councilwoman, Eunice Reiter chaired the BEC and told the council that the money would be divided between five areas: drainage ($6.5M), public facilities ($13M), parks ($2.5M), transportation ($13M) and fire/police ($5M).
“We were talking about hundreds of millions of dollars to start but we did whittle it down to $40 million after Wes (Vela) told us that anything over $40 million would require a tax increase”, Reiter said.
Vela, Missouri City’s Director of Finance, told the council that the debt tax rate is currently .19 for the 2013 tax year and should remain constant over the ten year life of the bond.
“That’s assuming appraisal values step up 1-2% per year throughout that period as well”, Vela said.
Mayor Allen Owen addressed citizen concerns from social media wondering why the city would consider another bond election when all of the money approved in the 2003 bond election has not been spent.
“If you get ahead of yourself, you have to raise the tax rate”, City Manager Edward Broussard told the council. “This new bond measure looks at the next decade and asks what additional projects need to be included in a future CIP”.
Most of the discussion focused on the recommended $13M on public facilities. The Public Safety Headquarters (PSHQ), which houses the police department would get $3M to provide additional space. The aging City Hall complex would receive $10M including $2.7M in roof repairs.
“Some on the committee felt the building should be torn down. Others felt that it should be moved”, Reiter said. “But the general consensus was that a space study needed to be done on both buildings”.
Broussard said the roof repairs are so severe that the $2.7M will be spent regardless of what is decided about the future of the building. There are plans to form a citizen committee to study the future of the city hall complex.
The BEC committee recommended $5M to be spent on Fire Station #6 in the Lake Olympic Parkway area. Fire Chief, Russell Sander said the new station will help his crews respond more quickly to emergencies in that area and the new station will add additional resources to keep existing fire trucks in their districts.
Larry Foos, Director of Parks and Recreation, told the council that the city needs a second gym at the Tennis and Recreation Center. In addition, he would like to consider a skate park which would include skate boarding, in-line skating and a BMX track, additional shade covers for playground areas, a sports complex and a special needs playground set.
The drainage recommendations include $6M in improvements to the Willow Water Hole Watershed near Fondren Park. $13M in transportation improvements include $7.5M in new or widened roads; $3M on sidewalks and $2.5 for beautification.