Our word is our bond
City defends $62m proposal’s ‘vague’ language
By Trishna Buch
SUSPICION that a city might misapply a $62 million bond being voted by its residents next month brought a forceful reaction from its city manager this week.
Brian Maxwell of Galveston told The Post there was no substance to some residents’ fears that the bond would be used for purposes other than infrastructure improvements listed on the city website.
And he said another complaint, that Galveston already has the money to fund the projects, is ill-founded.
If approved in the May 6 local elections, the bond could result in a 3.5 cent tax increase on every $100 of taxable property value for residents starting in the 2018 fiscal year based on the current average $215,000 value of homesteads on the island.
The Post spoke to Maxwell after a resident with knowledge of city-hall workings was among citizens who expressed concern that the wording of the bond proposal on the May 6 ballot paper is vague about the necessity for the funds and does not specify any projects on which the money would be spent if passed.
Instead, the wording on the official ballot refers only to “the construction, acquisition, improvement and rehabilitation of streets, bridges, storm sewers and drainage, including curbs, gutters, sidewalks and other related public infrastructure, traffic systems and acquisition of rights of way relating to such projects”.
The citizens, who requested anonymity, said that could be a license for the city to transfer the money for other purposes, leaving the listed infrastructure projects on the shelf. One expressed a belief that Galveston has a long history of calling for bonds whose proceeds end up in the city’s general fund, from where they finance raised salaries and suchlike.
But, when asked why the city had not outlined the specific projects in the ballot, Maxwell said: “No city does their bond that way”.
He said the city has a five-year capital-improvement plan that will cost a total of $217 million, $84 million of which will be going towards the listed improvements to the city’s streets and drainage infrastructure
Of the $84 million, he said $22 million is due to come from various sources and funds, leaving $62 million to come from the passing of the bond.
The fate of the bond will determine whether several projects are financed, including $10.4 million on reconstructing 45th Street from Broadway to Seawall Boulevard, $10.2 million on an 18th Street drainage project from the ship channel to Avenue K and $5.9 million on 37th Street from Broadway to Seawall Boulevard.
The citizens said they also wanted to know why the city isn’t using funds it sets aside each year to pay for the infrastructure projects.
Maxwell said the city cannot use those funds to pay for the proposed bond projects because it will take an extended period of time to gather up all of the funds involved and the bond projects need to have been completed or started by 2021.
He said the bond will be authorized over a period of time set by the city council based on factors including the city’s current needs, prevailing market conditions, assessed city valuations and demographic changes.
The city’s proposed projects as listed on its website are below.
For more details about the bond, go online to galvestontx.gov/798/Bond-Election-2017.
Streets and/or Drainage Projects:
- 11 Mile and FM 3005*
- 16th St from Broadway to Ave N 1/2
- 18th St from the Ship Channel to Ave K*
- 25th St From Broadway to Seawall
- 26th St from Ave N to Broadway
- 26th St from Broadway to Church Street
- 27th St from Broadway to Seawall
- 29th St from Church St to Harborside
- 29th St from Ave O to Ave R 1/2
- 30th St from Ave O to Seawall Blvd
- 35th St from Postoffice to Broadway
- 37th St from Broadway to Seawall
- 45th St from Broadway to Seawall
- 49th St from Ave P to Ave S 1/2
- 61st St & Seawall Intersection Improvements
- 73rd St from Heards Ln to Ave N 1/2
- Ave L Storm System at 62nd and 63rd*
- Church St from 35th to 37th Street*
- Replacement of Strand Pavers
- Storm Sewer Rehabilitation Program*
- Primarily Drainage Projects
$3 million in mill and overlay projects currently planned:
- All Streets – Indian Beach Subdivision
- 30th St from Ave M to Ave N 1/2
- 32nd St from Mechanic to Post Office
- 36th St from Ave K to Ave L
- 36th St from Ball St to Broadway
- 46th St from Ave N to Ave R
- 46th St from Ave R 1/2 to Ave T
- 46th St from Ave R to Ave R 1/2
- 46th St from Broadway to Ave L
- 49th St from Broadway to Ave L
- 53rd St from Broadway to Winnie
- 59th St from Ave S to Ave S 1/2
- 59th St from Maco to Seawall
- 71st St from I-45 Frontage to 440 FT North
- Avenue K from 25th to 33rd
- Avenue L from 27th to 31st
- Avenue M from 41st to 43rd
- Avenue Q from Neuman to Saladia
- Avenue Q 1/2 from 25th to 27th
- Ball St from 16th to 17th
- Bristow Dr off of 16 Mile Rd
- Mechanic from 26th St and a 1/2 block west
- Postoffice Street from 27th St to 29th St
ISD calls for megafund to overhaul aging campuses
By Trishna Buch
RESIDENTS of the Clear Creek independent school district are being asked to pass a $487 million bond when they head to the polls on May 6.
The district wants the money in order to rebuild two schools, as well as repairing and adding to several existing campuses and introducing improved technology and safety measures.
If passed, the bond will cost taxpayers except seniors a $0.035 increase.
The bulk of the funds – $309.3 million – will go towards the rebuilding program and major renovations at seven other schools and the district’s transportation center, as well as repairs at several schools that are not set for renovations.
According to the district’s website, several of its schools are more than 40 years old and some more than 50. If the bond is approved, the rebuilding and renovations will take place at schools that need drastic improvement, while others will receive a variety of repairs based on priority.
The two schools being rebuilt are Clear View high school, on Walnut Street, at a cost of $45.2 million, and League City elementary, on East Wilkins Street, for $46.9 million.
The schools due for renovations include Ross elementary, on West Main Street, at $20.7 million and Landolt elementary, on Pilgrims Point Drive, at $18.8 million.
Renovations at the district’s transportation center will include a new parking lot for school buses and a new access road. Elsewhere, district-wide priority repairs costing $66.2 million are planned for schools including Clear Brook high school on FM 2351, Clear Creek high school on East Main Street, Clear Falls high school on Village Way and Clear Springs high school on Palomino Lane.
A $70.8 million category in the bond includes the building of a new elementary school along SH-96 in League City, construction of an 18-classroom addition at Stewart elementary on Marina Bay Drive, a 10-classroom addition at Clear Lake intermediate on El Camino Real and a seven-classroom addition at Creekside intermediate on West Main Street.
Several safety improvements costing $17.5 million are also due to take place, including upgrading campus security systems and replacing older school buses and dangerous and dilapidated playground equipment.
Student programs at the district will also see $43.6 million going towards additions and renovations. The district plans to open a second science magnet program because 200 students are turned away from its Seabrook science magnet program each year, with $10.3 million for the expansion of Brookside intermediate, on FM-528, by adding classrooms and science laboratories.
Clear Creek high school will see $13.7 million spent on new sound and ticket booths, lighting improvements and other work in its auditorium. Clear Creek intermediate, on East Main Street, will receive $6.5 million for renovating fine arts and athletic spaces and adding a new band hall and $4.0 million will go towards replacing athletic and fine arts equipment throughout the district.
The district will use $31.8 million to boost its technology, replacing or installing new ceiling projectors in the majority of its classrooms, replacing laboratory and staff computers and replacing its telephone system, among other improvements.