Bond referendums/sales reach billion dollar mark for capital improvement projects
In May, voters throughout Texas decided on the outcome of thousands of projects and more than $8.3 billion worth of bond funding when they went to the polls. Around eighty-five local entities called for bond elections.
Now, other governmental entities are considering additional bond packages. School districts, hospital districts, cities, counties, community colleges, special districts and more have until Aug. 21 to call for a November bond election. Those who seek voter approval for bonds on Nov. 7 are making decisions now about how much to ask for and what projects the bond money will fund.
The Austin Independent School District has announced that it will ask voters to approve a bond package that will exceed one billion dollars on Nov. 7. The bond proposition includes: 16 modernized or new schools, improvements in transportation and technology and addressing critical facility needs. Here is a summary of projects included in the bond package.
The billion dollar bond proposal, fortunately, would not result in a tax increase. Austin ISD is the fifth largest school district in Texas and serves more than 83,000 students at 130 schools.
Houston city officials are still trying to decide the size of their bond request, but a political action committee formed to support the bonds, Lift Up Houston, lists the amount as $490 million on its website.
The referendum is tied to Houston’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan. The proposed plan calls for $538 million in improvements to city facilities, including a $57 million multi-purpose facility for Alief that would serve as a community center and library and would house the neighborhood’s Women, Infants and Children Center. Other projects include the replacement of Moody Library, renovations to the Flores and Mancuso libraries, a new Sunnyside Multi-Service Center and repairs to city hall and its adjacent annex.
Texas isn’t the only state with high dollar bond packages. Denver voters could see a bond package on the November ballot for $937.4 million that would fund 460 projects. The list now goes to the Denver City Council, with the expectation that they’ll approve a final list of projects in August.
Major projects on the list include: $101 million for deferred maintenance, such as repaving streets, curbs and gutters and bridge work; $75 million for a new ambulatory care center for the Denver Health and Hospital Authority; $55 million for implementing bus rapid transit on Colfax Avenue between the Auraria campus and Yosemite Street; $38 million for renovations at the Central Library; $37.5 million for the Westwood Recreation Center; and $35.5 million for the Denver Art Museum’s renovation of the north building and transportation improvements.
In North Carolina, Mecklenburg County commissioners voted in June to place a $937 million bond package on the November ballot. The bond would build 10 new schools, as well as the replacement of older facilities and other enhancements to campuses. Commissioners have delayed a vote until August on whether to include spending nearly $120 million in upfront money on a new soccer stadium to replace Memorial Stadium in Elizabeth. The county wants the city of Charlotte to put forth $43.5 million toward stadium, but city council has so far refused the request. If the city doesn’t act, the county might back out of the partnership.
A special election in October could lead to nearly $3 billion in road projects across West Virginia and it will cost the state about $2.8 million. A constitutional amendment asking voters whether to give the West Virginia Legislature authority to issue $1.6 billion in bonds over the next four years will be the only item on the ballot in the special election, set for Oct. 7. State officials have identified $2.8 billion in projects that would be ready to start, and among the largest of these is a $172.5 million project to rehabilitate and replace seven bridges along Interstate 70 in Ohio County.
During a special session last month, the Legislature approved Senate Joint Resolution 6, the Roads to Prosperity Amendment of 2017. The proposed amendment will now be sent before voters to decide whether to give the Legislature authority to issue and sell bonds for the purpose of road construction and repair. In total, the Roads to Prosperity Amendment calls for authorizing the sale of up to $1.6 billion in state bonds over the next four years.