by ANDY SEVILLA
Without too much time to spare and after cost estimates increased by more than half-a-million dollars, council members are working toward a second attempt at a potential road bond election in May.
The $35.3 million project would reconstruct Bunton, Burleson, Goforth, Lehman and Marketplace roads. Last year’s estimates showed the same work would cost $34.7 million.
The roads were identified as priority by a city visioning process, and elected officials have spoken copiously on the dangers drivers face on some of the roads because of their deterioration.
A $34.7 million road bond package failed to make it to the voters in November because of “vague” verbiage, even after being scaled back from funding of five road improvements to one – Bunton Creek Road – though council members stated commitment for future discussions.
Kyle Mayor Lucy Johnson and council members David Wilson and Becky Selbera fought to get the full $34.7 million road bond election before voters in the General Election this past November, though after its failure on the dais was certain, they compromised for a $6.4 million bond package – $4.4 million for Bunton’s reconstruction and $2 million for the engineering of the other four roads.
Council members Ray Bryant, Diane Hervol and Samantha Bellows-LeMense expressed concern in the original road bond talks about the financial burden the total project would put on Kyle residents, and they said they would only agree to funding Bunton’s reconstruction and engineering costs for the other roads.
The $34.7 million road bond would have increased property owners’ annual tax bill by $254.16 on the average home valued at $125,097.
On second reading of the then-agreed upon $6.4 million road bond election, Council Member Brad Pickett, who was absent for its first reading, opposed the measure because he said the language did not explicitly state the $2 million would be used for the engineering of Burleson, Goforth, Lehman and Marketplace roads.
Despite assurances from Johnson that the city would later adopt a resolution that specified the application of the $2 million for engineering, Pickett’s concern permeated the support from the other council members and ultimately derailed the road bond’s chances of making it to the ballot box in a 4–3 vote.
“I feel that it is a disservice to the citizens to not fully inform them of what they are voting on,” Pickett said after the measure failed on the dais, though he also said he was willing to discuss advancing a road bond package in the May election.
On Thursday, Dec. 13, council members will host a joint workshop with the city’s mobility committee to discuss the $35.3 million road bond now on the table.
“I will continue to push for us to expand and repave our roads for the safety of Kyle residents, and for their transportation needs and their mobility needs. And I’ll do it in any way that I can,” Johnson said after the road bond failed to make it on the November ballot.
City Engineer Steve Widacki told council members that the mobility committee is interested in seeking a bond package for all five roads.