by ANDY SEVILLA
Questions remain about the specifics of a $36 million road bond election Kyle city council members are scheduled to approve at their next meeting. Those questions include the cost of the bond and the acquisition of land for improvements to one of the roads included in the bond package.
The road bond election was presented to the public as calling for only $35.3 million for street improvements; if approved in May, that money would allow for the engineering and reconstruction of Bunton Creek, Burleson, Goforth and Lehman roads, as well as the extension of Marketplace Avenue.
Until the council’s Feb. 5 meeting, the public had been told that the road bond election would be called for $35.3 million – the estimated cost of improving all five roads identified as priority in the city’s 2012 visioning process. At that meeting, the proposed ballot language called for a $36 million road bond election, effectively increasing the figure by almost one-million dollars.
City Finance Director Perwez Moheet told council members the added $700,000 were necessary to issue the bonds. Perwez said the bond election would call for $35.3 million for improving roads, plus a two-percent bond issuance cost.
“Because we’re staggering the bond issues over six separate issues… when you break up the bond issue into six components, you have slightly higher issuance costs,” Perwez said.
According to the city’s timeline, year one of the project would call for the issuance of bonds for the engineering of all five roads; and in each following year, of the six-year plan, bonds would be issued to improve one of the five streets identified in the project.
After being pressed by council member Diane Hervol on why the public was kept unaware of the two-percent bond issuance cost, Perwez said knowledge of that expense has been communicated to Kyle residents all along.
“I did that. In all of the financial analysis, you see a line called financing cost, included in that $17 million is this two-percent (bond issuance cost),” Perwez said.
In city documents, the finance charges are not itemized and only the total amount is presented. The estimated total project cost is $51,968,757, with $35.3 million set aside for engineering and construction and $16,668,757 going toward financing.
Perwez said the bond issuance cost would not have an added tax impact to the figure already estimated. City officials have forecasted an increase of $0.2075 per $100 of property valuation to cover the project’s cost, based on current overall property valuations.
Openly, city officials have stated they do not foresee imposing a tax increase of nearly $0.21 cents brought on by the project, and instead are hopeful the road improvements will attract residential and commercial developments to help defray the cost of the road improvements, as well as any added sales taxes brought on by the expected population influx.
In a Silverado Homeowners Association (HOA) meeting at City Hall Friday, the city’s mobility committee made a brief presentation and then answered questions on the road bond proposal.
Several homeowners expressed approval for the project at that meeting, but also cautioned they would like concrete answers regarding right-of-way for the Marketplace Avenue extension before the election in May.
City Engineer Steve Widacki said the estimated $4 million cost for the extension of Marketplace Avenue does not have right-of-way acquisition factored into it, because property owners have said they would donate the land.
“It’s been posed to the property owner on two different occasions that we would anticipate they would donate the right-of-way for (Marketplace Avenue), because they’re receiving the benefit of that roadway being constructed for the needs of the city,” Widacki told council members at the Feb. 5 meeting. “So that’s basically why there are no right-of-way costs in the estimate for Marketplace (Avenue).”
Council member Ray Bryant took issue with Widacki’s belief in donated right-of-way, without having any written agreement with property owners.
Bryant said that just because conversations have been had, “that doesn’t mean that they’re going to accept it.”
“I would hate to approve a road to be built where we do not have the land for it, or have no means of acquiring the land,” said Silverado homeowner Lisa Furler in her HOA’s meeting at city hall.
Council member Brad Pickett asked Widacki to pursue on an agreement in writing with the property owners.
“I would like you to pursue that in whatever matter we feel is necessary, because we want to be able to tell the citizens that vote for this (bond election) that that is the end cost,” Pickett said. “If it’s not, then we need to be able to tell them that as well.”
For Furler, Marketplace Avenue is a priority because of the access, not only to shopping but to the hospital.
“If we have the means of acquiring the (right-of-way) land, whether that’s through donation or purchase, then yes, (Marketplace Avenue) needs to be built.
“We really need to be concerned about the safety of all our citizens,” Furler said. “And access to the high school, to the hospital, to shopping, is important; but safety is number one.”
Widacki said each road planned for improvements has about a 25 percent contingency built into their estimates, “so between the five different roadways there’s, I’d say realistically, an excess of probably several million dollars.” Thus, Marketplace Avenue’s extension could still be built even if area property owners decide against donating right-of-way land.
Perwez said that, depending on the final wording of the bond election ordinance, savings on a road’s reconstruction could be used to cover increased expenses on another road in the improvement project.
Mobility committee members Joe Bacon and Gayle Meiser appeased Silverado HOA members’ concerns over Marketplace Avenue’s right-of-way uncertainty.
“It does look favorable that the land will be donated and that’s what we’re going by,” Meiser said.
Council members unanimously approved calling the $36 million road bond election at their Feb. 5 meeting and they are scheduled for their final vote on the matter Feb. 19.
Furler said she thinks putting the road bond election to the voters is a “great idea.”
“We really need to be concerned about the children that are walking on roads with no sidewalk,” Furler said. “Just knowing the growing number of our population, we’re in a rush and not always watching. I don’t want us to wait for an accident to build the roads.”