By Betsy Dolan
Missouri City’s City Council members on Tuesday began the work of discussing what direction to take in regard to a proposed bond referendum in May that would help repair the city’s streets and sidewalks.
“This city is at the age where our streets are worn out. If we don’t start addressing it, our property values will be affected,” Mayor Allen Owen said. “At the same time, I do not want our bond rating affected. I don’t want to tax our citizens to the point that they don’t understand the importance of this bond issue. Because the bottom line is that if they don’t authorize it we can’t do anything about it.”
Missouri City Manager Edward Broussard said the initial plan was to put a smaller bond package together that would focus primarily on street and sidewalk repairs with consideration given to drainage improvements, park and trail improvements and construction of Fire Station #6, which would be the only major capital project involved in the referendum. Broussard told the council that a smaller bond package for “rehab projects” might be more palatable to residents rather than a more extensive plan with large capital expenditures.
“Based on the strategic priorities that you have had, there is a limited amount of money,” Broussard told the council. “If you want to consider something higher and something that is going to take a more comprehensive approach, it will take a little more time.”
The City Council decided to increase the number of bond steering committee members from 11 to 25. They will be responsible for fine tuning the proposal in a series of weekly meetings between October and February, which is when the referendum would need to be submitted for inclusion on the May ballot.
During the bond referendum discussion, Mayor Owen gave an impromptu update on the city’s negotiations with METRO. Owen, who is chair of the METRO Multi-City Coalition, said he is hopeful the city will continue to get a 50 percent return on the sales tax money they send Metro which amounts to around $3 million every year. The METRO funds have to be spent on streets, sidewalks and traffic mitigation issues.