Arlington council considers bond election as soon as next year

Posted Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Although little more than half the $140 million authorized in the 2008 bond election has been spent, city leaders are already considering asking voters to approve an even larger bond package next year.

At a special meeting Friday, the City Council looked at preliminary proposals for either a three-year, $150 million bond election or a four-year, $170 million bond election as soon as Nov. 4, 2014.

City management and department heads have been assembling a list of potential bond-funded projects, including millions of dollars to rebuild streets and new or upgraded facilities for parks, libraries and the Fire Department.

“We have a lot of good ideas. Whether we can afford them right now, I don’t know,” Mayor Robert Cluck said. “We have infrastructure that has to be repaired, and we have to have money for new development. We have to be very careful how we use that money. We can’t do all those projects at one time.”

If the council moves forward with a 2014 bond election, it could begin seeking candidates for an 18-member Citizen Bond Review Committee as soon as January.

Council members already had ideas Friday for projects they want considered, including road work and new recreation and senior centers.

Council member Charlie Parker recommended building a centrally located senior recreation facility to compete with Grand Prairie’s The Summit, a $23 million facility designed for active adults 50 and older.

“I would like to see consideration given to a senior recreation facility here in Arlington. I think our senior citizens deserve it,” Parker said. “It would be a great expenditure as our population grows older.”

Southeast Arlington is the only part of town not served by a recreation facility, said council member Robert Rivera, who represents that district.

Council member Sheri Capehart said the city needs to increase the capacity of small roadways in south Arlington to meet the demands of growing neighborhoods and school districts.

Though the city has many needs and desires, rebuilding aging roadways should remain a top focus, council member Jimmy Bennett said.

“Our citizens consistently tell us our road infrastructure is something they want us to pay attention to,” Bennett said.

Street projects made up about 75 percent of the 2008 bond funds.

Arlington has spent about $80 million from the 2008 bond election on projects, including money to open the Southwest Nature Preserve, rebuild fire stations, begin constructing the city’s first skate park and do work necessary to rebuild Abram Street from Cooper Street to the Grand Prairie city limit.

City administrators had expected to spend all the $140 million approved in the 2008 bond election by last year. But the slow economy and falling property tax values caused the city to scale back how much debt it issued each year for approved projects, Budget Manager Mike Finley said.

“Property taxes didn’t do as well as we had thought,” Finley said.

The city now expects to issue the remaining $60 million over the next two years, moving the program from five years to seven years, Finley said.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639 Twitter: @susanschrock

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