Voters are likely to see the street bond as a single proposition on this November’s ballot after the Denton City Council agreed with a citizens’ group recommendation that the public art portion be folded in to the ballot language.
The ballot could have been written four different ways and still be able to satisfy the city’s legal requirements to sell $20.4 million in bonds to reconstruct streets and devote a portion of the bond to public art. The council ultimately agreed with the Citizens Bond Advisory Committee, which voted June 11 to recommend the single proposition.
By not making the $400,000 public art portion its own proposition, the council avoids a de facto referendum on its public art policy. However, the single proposition carries its own risk for the entire package in November, when thousands more Denton voters are at the polls than during a typical municipal election.
In 2006, the council agreed that future bond elections should set aside 2 to 4 percent of total funding for the arts. The November 2012 bond election will be the city’s first bond election since the council adopted the policy.
Through the city’s public art committee, city leaders have already identified the likely public art project that would be funded with the 2012 election — decorative panels on new retaining walls that would be installed with the Interstate 35E expansion.
During its work session Tuesday, the council agreed with the single proposition, with the exception that the public art portion of the street bond be specified as “up to $400,000” on the ballot.
A sobering report that graded the condition of city streets two years ago triggered the effort. About 990 street segments were recommended for reconstruction at a cost estimate of $96 million.
The bond committee met several times and settled on the first round, a list of about 200 segments throughout the city that will be rebuilt in $4 million increments over the next five years.
The scope of work was carved out in increments so the city could avoid raising the property tax rate to pay the debt service.
The council played catch-up this week, not having met on city business since June 19, other than to certify the June 23 runoff election.
City Finance Director Bryan Langley told the council that additional bond elections could be needed in 2013 and again in 2015, based on other capital needs identified around the city.
The City Council will hold a public hearing on the street bond during its regular meeting Aug. 7. The council is expected to formally call for the street bond election on Aug. 14.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
IN OTHER ACTION
During the Denton City Council’s regular meeting Tuesday, the council also:
• Agreed to seek a contract change in using regional transportation funds for the widening of Bonnie Brae Street
• Approved a $192,989 contract to relocate utilities along FM 2499
• Contracted with Freese and Nichols to design a water line for $435,701
• Extended an agreement with the Denton Police Officers Association to serve as a labor representative
• Approved new rules for signs at Brinker Road and Quail Creek Boulevard
• Approved the rezoning of about 33.1 acres at McKinney Street and Mayhill Road
• Adopted new definitions for family and housing types and added warehouses and convention centers to the development code
• Postponed consideration of an ordinance updating requirements for grease control at restaurants
• Purchased two tracts of land along Paisley Street, totaling about one-half acre, for $227,000
• Purchased six tracts of land along South Bonnie Brae Street, totaling about 2.44 acres, and secured a temporary construction easement for $253,912
• Reappointed Bill Cheek to a two-year term as director for the city on the Texas Municipal Power Association Board.
• Reappointed Pete Kamp to the Regional Transportation Council
• Appointed Mark Burroughs, Caleb O’Rear, Lane Rawlins, Carrell Ann Simmons and Greg Johnson to the Economic Development Partnership Board.