News

By Lora-Marie Bernard

League City will issue more than $16 million in bonds to fund a myriad of capital improvement projects in the city.
Mayor Pat Hallisey lauded the projects and said they were important to the city’s future. The League City City Council approved the funds during a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday.
“This is a community that’s growing by leaps and bounds, one thousand homes per year,” Hallisey said. “There’s not a person in town who doesn’t understand the need for transportation improvements, being able to be mobile around town, getting roads that connect.”
Resident Brian Brown said the council should show fiscal restraint even though the city’s new bond rating made it cheaper to borrow money.  He ran for a council position last year on a platform of fiscal conservatism.
He said homeowners received “sticker shock” when they received the latest county assessments.  Some properties rose by as much as 12.7 percent and they didn’t expect it.
“If we don’t need to borrow it, don’t borrow it,” he said “Only borrow what we need. Just because we can borrow doesn’t mean we should.
Councilmember Nick Long echoed Brown. Long said he wanted to know if the city still intended to reduce its overall total debt in the next fiscal year. Finance Director Rebecca Underhill said the city would and the lowest bid for bond service on the $16 million was a 2.7 percent interest rate.
About $5 million in tax supported projects are included in that amount. They include the Ervin/Hobbs Connector street project, the Animal Adoption Center, Public Safety Annex Station 6 and items related to the Downtown Revitalization Plan.
Also on the table are revenue-supported projects that include a new well and generator at South Shore Boulevard, improvements to the Southeast Service Area Trunk lines, the North Service Area 16-inch waterline along Grissom, the Dallas Salmon Effluent Discharge Improvements, annual sanitary sewer rehab projects, annual lift station improvements and Countryside No. 1 Lift Station improvements.

By Lora-Marie Bernard

Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the City of League City’s bond rating from Aa2 to Aa1, the second highest rating on the Moody’s scale.
“This important achievement could not have been realized without the commitment of the City Council to maintain the highest standards for financial operations,” said Rebecca Underhill, Assistant City Manager.
According to the Moody’s Investor Service press release, the upgrade to Aa1 reflects the rapidly growing tax base supported by a stable economic profile, and a consistent history of favorable financial management evident by ample reserves. Additional considerations include the city’s debt profile which remains affordable, despite being higher than peers.
In fact, League City will sell $17,025,000 in bonds next week and the press release states it is unusual for Moody’s to upgrade a rating in the midst of a sizeable outstanding debt. It maintains a $227 million in general obligation limited bonds.
However, several factors can cause a higher rating. Some of those factors include: Substantial reduction of debt burden; a significant tax base expansion and a considerable improvement of reserves.
By contrast, factors that can lead to a downgrade include: increase in debt burden without corresponding tax base growth; substantial depletion of reserves or a material weakening of formal financial policies; sustained, multi-year assessed value contractions or the status of its legal security.
For example, last year, Moody downgraded the City of Houston’s rating to Aa3 and stated that the weakening economic and financial performance that it blamed on the prolonged dive in oil prices. It also reflected the city’s high fixed costs, large unfunded pension liabilities (among the highest in the nation), as well as property tax caps.
This rating was given before the state approved the city’s pension reform measures.

By Lora-Marie Bernard

During the final hours of the 85th Legislative Session, both the state House and Senate approved House Bill 2445 expands opportunities for League City’s economic development and tourism efforts.
HB 2445 allows League City to pledge the state’s portion of the hotel occupancy tax, sales tax, and qualifying mixed alcoholic beverage taxes to the construction of a myriad of projects that have been on the city’s table. For example, the funds can be used to create a convention center and entertainment-related facilities for it. They could be used to bolster hotel infrastructure and build ancillary facilities such as restaurants and retail.
State Representatives Greg Bonnen and Wayne Faircloth, State Rep. Dennis Paul and Sen. Larry Taylor were critical to the bills success, said Scott Livingston, Director of Economic Development for League City.
“This proposed bill will equip League City with a new tool to stimulate tourism and economic development that will improve the quality of life for our citizens and the tourism experience for our visitors,” Livingston said.
He also said Scott Joslove, president of the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association, and his staff was also important. He said they advised the city and testified in favor of the bill before the House Ways and Means Committee.
Mayor Pat Hallisey, Councilman Nick Long, City Manager John Baumgartner, City Attorney Nghiem Doan, and Livingston also testified before the committee in April.
The measure falls in line with the city’s formal legislative agenda which included two priorities. First, the city would support legislation that advanced home rule authority and local council control of city interests. Second, the city would support legislation that rebated state taxes to support the construction of a convention center in League City.
HB 2445 will become state law upon Governor Greg Abbot’s signature.

By Lora-Marie Bernard

La Marque residents will be able to vote in Dickinson for an upcoming council runoff and some councilmembers are befuddled by it.

Voters voting in polling place

“It’s just a little awkward, for us to have our residents to go outside our city limits,” said Mayor Pro Tem Keith Bell.
Galveston County administers elections for the City of La Marque, which allows voters to cast ballots at any location. La Marque residents will be able to vote at the Dickinson Community Center during early voting and on Election Day, said Robin Eldridge, City Clerk.
“La Marque and most cities in Galveston County use countywide polling locations that is why they scattered them out for the cities that are having runoffs,” Eldridge said. “It’s the same way for regular elections. Every year it’s been like that because it’s countywide polling.”
The city will have a District D runoff election between candidates Casey McAuliffe and Greg Snow-King Cornett. Neither candidates achieved a solid majority in the May 6 Election.  The three-way race included David Pennington.
Bell’s comments came as the La Marque City Council considered a resolution that established the procedures for the June 17 runoff election. The resolution was adopted in a 4-1 vote last week.
District D councilmember Clent Brown, who did not seek reelection, cast the sole dissenting vote. Bell supported the item but said the Dickinson location should be monitored.
Brown said he opposed the out-of-city locations because the district does not have many voters and the current arrangement is cumbersome.
“It’s not a good thing for the City of La Marque,” Brown said. “We have people higher above us tell us what to do. I don’t like that at all.”
Mayor Bobby Hocking added that there were also local locations, such as the La Marque Community Center, for voters to cast ballots. He expected most people will come to City Hall.

By Lora-Marie Bernard

League City has joined a growing list of cities that are pooling funds to produce a video that touts the proposed coastal barrier system.
The Ike Dike, which is the conversational term for a proposed system, is now on President Trump’s top 50 infrastructure projects, said League City councilmember Nick Long. He said a recently completed storm impact study showed League City had a great deal to gain by encouraging federal dollars to flow to the project.
“This study showed that 8 of the 25 most severely impacted neighborhoods, in case of a large hurricane entering Galveston Bay, are actually here in League City,” he said.
Long discussed the project at the City of League City council meeting last week. During that meeting, the council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution that earmarks $15,000 for a marketing agreement with the Bay Area Coastal Protection Alliance.
He said the funding would help create an educational video that could help U.S. Congress understand the project. The video would explain how the Ike Dike could protect and reduce storm recovery costs.
He said that failure to get the federal funds for a barrier means Federal Emergency Management Agency would be tapped when a hurricane hits the Texas Gulf. It’s better to get funds to protect rather than to react, he said.
“This also protects our national economy and, frankly, our national security,” he said “So I think this is a small investment for the city to make to really get out the word about how the Ike Dike project is vital to the security of the Gulf Coast.”
Other city councils that have already authorized funding include Morgan’s Point, Houston, Deer Park, LaPorte, Nassau Bay and Seabrook, he said.
“The smaller cities a little less the larger cities a little more,” he said “Then also at the same time, in the next coming weeks, some of the other cities around GB will be contributing as well.”