The city’s largest bond election, about $98.2 million, will head to a public hearing Aug. 5, having cleared a final council work session Tuesday afternoon.
Council members appeared comfortable with a citizens advisory committee recommendation that the city put four propositions on the November ballot for the spending package. If all the propositions pass, the spending package could ultimately bring a 3-cent increase to the city’s property tax rate.
The city’s current property tax rate is 68.975 cents per $100 valuation.
Each penny increase in the tax rate brings the city about $20 million in new spending, according to Assistant City Manager Bryan Langley. The increase means the average Denton homeowner could pay about $48 more in property taxes each year, based on an average home price of about $160,000.
The citizen committee selected projects that totaled about $24 million for street reconstruction and another $38 million for other mobility and traffic improvements. Also selected were more than $8 million for drainage, $11 million for parks and $16.5 million for public safety.
The council considered briefly a recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Commission that a supplementary package be added to the propositions, specifically to increase spending on street reconstruction.
In an interview after the work session, commission member Devin Taylor said that under the charter, the commission is supposed to provide the City Council with a report on capital projects each year. He said the bond committee did a lot of hard work and the commission wanted to underscore the problem with the city’s streets.
Problems with the city’s streets and other infrastructure come up often in the commission’s work, he said.
“It might be hindering growth and development in the city,” Taylor said.
During the work session, council member Jim Engelbrecht cautioned that considering another half-cent tax increase to accommodate the commission’s additional recommendations would tip the bond package past $100 million.
“That’s a whole nother number,” Engelbrecht said.
Council member Joey Hawkins agreed, saying it could mean an increase of more than $50 annually for the average homeowner’s property taxes.
Mayor Chris Watts flirted briefly with replacing some of the original recommendations from the citizens committee with those from Planning and Zoning. But council member Dalton Gregory said he was reluctant to agree with changes that stray too far from the original recommendations.
“We want the bond election to pass,” he said.
The staff assured the mayor and council members that the city could, once voters approved the package, allocate some of the money differently than is recommended by the citizens committee, as long as it went back to a bond oversight committee for approval.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.
IN OTHER ACTION
During its regular meeting Tuesday, the Denton City Council also:
• Authorized sale of general obligation bonds, including $13.5 million for the electric fund and $19 million for the water fund.
• Awarded a $145,000 engineering and design contract to C.T. Brannon Corp. for Civic Center Pool renovations, a $917,525 construction contract to Quality Excavation for sewer improvements along Sherman Drive and a $579,068 construction contract to Floyd Smith Concrete for aircraft ramps at Denton Enterprise Airport.
• For Denton Municipal Electric, approved $480,000 for the purchase of 25 substation controller remote units from Advanced Control Systems and $180,000 for other security products and related services from STS 360 LLC.
• For DME expansion projects, authorized the city manager to offer $187,963 for 15 acres on FM1173; $434,380 for 2.5 acres on North Locust Street, $16,500 for 1.1 acres on McKinney Street; $1.3 million for four lots on Hickory and Oak streets; and $1.1 million for about 16 acres on Loop 288.
• Authorized the city manager to offer $1.7 million for two tracts totaling about 16 acres for the expansion of Denton Enterprise Airport.
• Matched a $1.3 million grant from the Texas Department of Transportation with $335,404 to build a pedestrian bridge in Evers Park.
• Agreed to hire Teague Nall & Perkins for engineering services not to exceed $500,000.
• Approved $43,000 for a mapping update from the North Central Texas Council of Governments and appointed Greg Johnson as alternate to its Regional Transportation Council.
• Abandoned drainage easements in downtown Denton and on Pockrus Page Road.