By a slim three votes, Keller residents rejected a proposal to issue $8.2 million for road and intersection improvements.According unofficial results of Tuesday’s election, out of 3,061 voters, 50.05 percent opposed the package, which for the average Keller homeowner would have increased taxes by $3.31 per month.“This bond election was a perfect example of democracy in action and the way in which Keller chooses to do business — beginning and ending with the will of our citizens,” said city manager Steve Polasek. City Council called for the bond election during an Aug. 20 meeting. The decision came after eight months of meetings, 11 public hearings and an outpouring of community feedback to the Transportation Bond Program Advisory Committee and City Council.“I’m disappointed in the results of the election,” said Councilman John Hoffmann, who also served as committee chairman. “Not so much because of the political process ... more because of the amount of effort by the committee in developing the proposition.”Hoffmann said committee was a great group of citizens who worked very hard, came together as a team and studied intensely.“They listened to the community,” he said. “I think the committee recommendation reflected that.”Hoffmann said funding the road improvements will not be an easy task.“I think it will be difficult to see more than a couple of these projects done during the next few years,” he said. “There isn’t extra money available in the budget ... to find a half million to do an intersection or a million to do a road project, it isn’t impossible, but will be difficult.”Hoffmann said now they will need to look for other funding options and line the projects up “like everything else” on the priority list.Finding other funding is something Councilman Bill Dodge said needed to be done the moment council received recommendations from the committee.“I did not vote for it. I was actively encouraging others to read about it and learn about it,” Dodge said. “I didn’t feel comfortable asking the voters to support any bond election, whether it was $8 million or $20 million until we determine what amount was actually needed.”Dodge said he met with private engineers who informed him that some of the proposals could be designed safely and effectively for a lot less money.“Each project had serious issues, that’s why I started fighting it,” he said. “Once people started learning about the issues, they got concerned.”Dodge said he wanted to postpone an election until council had more time to study alternatives.“Why go to the taxpayers at this point?” Dodge said. “Lets put this off until we can solidify numbers. Then we can go back to the taxpayers and iron out what needs to be done ... I just didn’t understand the urgency.”Deputy City Manager Chris Fuller said the roadway and intersection projects that were on the ballot are unfunded and will be designated as such within the city's Capital Improvement Program. “Staff will continue to work with county and state officials, as well as private sector developers, to identify potential funding sources for City Council consideration,” Fuller said.
Susan McFarland, 817-431-2231 Twitter: @susanmcfarland1