Arlington residents will decide in the May 6 election whether to approve a set of bond proposals for city improvements.
The measures will be on the same ballot where residents will vote for Arlington Mayor and other city council positions. The bonds are split into five propositions that aim to devote funds to concerns such as public safety, street improvement, downtown administrative buildings and local libraries.
These bonds are general obligation bonds, which is the most common type of bond that state and local governments use to raise money for projects that may not generate revenue for the city.
The city council appointed a Citizens Bond Committee made up of 19 Arlington citizens that met several times in 2022 to gather information on the city’s needs. They presented a final recommended list to the council in December.
Arlington accepted the committee recommendations and decided to call for a bond election this election cycle. The city’s bond ratings range from AAA to A+, meaning the city has a good track record of paying back its debt.
Arlington's previous bond election was in 2018. That bond program focused on street improvements, parks and recreation, public safety and facilities. The total cost of that program was $189,500,000.
The bond program is expected to increase the city’s debt to approximately $10 to 20 million per year. When it comes to residents' taxes, the city couldn’t guarantee a particular interest rate or tax rate since the market directs them, city treasurer Ethan Klos said in an email.
City officials have tried their best not to raise taxes by projecting interest rates, property values and inflation, Klos added. The debt portion of the tax rate should remain around 0.2 per $100 assessed value of the property, Klos added.
According to the ordinance setting the bond election, the maximum interest rate on the bonds is not expected to exceed 4%. The total cost of these bond propositions will be $278,285,000.
Early voting begins April 24 and ends May 2.
Proposition A is focused on street improvements and will cost $219,460,000. It’s the most expensive proposition, accounting for roughly 80% of the total bond program.
If approved, several roads, including sections of Park Row Drive and Randol Mill Road, would be redesigned to have right-of-way acquisition. Funds would also go to new traffic signals and intelligent transportation systems devices such as electronic message boards and traffic management cameras.
Proposition B is focused on parks and recreation and will cost $24,645,000. It accounts for about 9% of the total bond program.
A portion of this funding would allow for phase one development of the N.L. Robinson Park, including developing a master plan, design, engineering, construction plans and construction.
This new park’s proposed cost is $1,675,000 and is about 7% of Proposition B. The park is named after Norman Lee Robinson, who received the key to the cities of Arlington and Grand Prairie for his years of service in the military and to the community.
The Woodland West Park would also get a new aquatic facility to replace the existing outdoor pool. This project’s proposed cost is $7,000,000 and accounts for 28% of Proposition B.
The remaining funds would go towards renovations to Elzie Odom Athletic Center in North Arlington, Fielder Park improvements, a new trail from the Village Creek Historical Area to Pioneer Parkway and the replacements of equipment for several playgrounds around Arlington.
Proposition C focuses on public safety. This part of the program costs $30,080,000. It accounts for nearly 11% of the proposed funds.
This funding will go to the construction of a new fire station that will be located at 2015 Mayfield Road. It would be the city’s 18th fire station and makes up roughly 31% of Proposition C.
“This area has been identified as a location to meet the growing demand of our community and the service demand needs,” said Jasiel Zapata, Arlington Fire Department spokesman, in an email.
North Arlington would also receive a new police substation at 1715 Lamar Blvd if approved.
This project is roughly 50% of the proposition. The proposed North substation will be a completely separate building from the Ott Cribbs Public Safety Center. It will be used as evidence storage and house the Arlington Police Department’s North Patrol District.
JP Mason, President of the Arlington Police Association, said in an email that as the city grows, it's the city’s responsibility to maintain citizens' safety.
“If this bond vote is successful, it will help in fulfilling that responsibility for both police and fire protection,” Mason said.
Existing police and fire stations will also see the replacement of HVAC, roofs, windows, elevators and the installation of generators if the proposition goes through.
Proposition D & Proposition E
Proposition D is focused on structural and mechanical improvements to the City Hall and City Tower. If approved, it would cost the city $3,000,000.
Proposition E proposes $1,100,000 going to the replacement of local libraries' major building components. If approved, the libraries would have their roofs, windows and HVAC replaced. The funding would also go toward the installation of generators.
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