Amarillo City Council unanimously approves call for May Civic Center bond election
Amarillo, Texas, city officials are asking voters to go to the polls in May to decide the fate of a $275 million bond issue to help fund a proposed $319 million Civic Center expansion and renovation project.
During Tuesday's regular meeting, the Amarillo City Council voted 5-0 in favor of a resolution calling a May 2, 2020, bond election, which officials said is a uniform election date under the Texas Election Code.
Officials said the funding initiative would also include Certificates of Obligation, which do not require voter approval, of $21 million, for a bond use total of $296 million to help fund the overall project cost of $319 million.
"The general obligation bonds will go to the voters and there will be one proposition - for the Civic Center expansion and renovation project," said Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer Michelle Bonner. "The Certificate of Obligation is still property tax supported, but council has the authority to issue those bonds. If the election is successful, we've talked about we need to move City Hall. That money would be used to help secure and renovate a spot for City Hall."
Bonner previously indicated the funding plan would also include $8 million from utilities for infrastructure funding and $15 million of value engineering. She previously offered the following itemized project breakdown:
· New arena - $155 million
· Convention Center expansion / renovation - $117.5 million
· City services relocation - $20 million
· Parking garage - $15 million
· Santa Fe Depot restoration - $8 million
· Central Plaza (Park) - $3.5 million
The impact of both bonds to taxpayers is a 15-cent increase to the property tax rate, Bonner said previously, adding that for a $100,000 valued home, it would be a $150.85 increase in the property tax bill. She said residents could visit www.conversationciviccenter.com, enter the value of their home via the calculator and the impact would be calculated.
"What we would recommend, upon voter approval, is to go ahead and issue the Certificates of Obligation, because City Hall needs to take place first," she said. "In 2021, we recommend issuing bonds for the project and also a small issuance in 2022. It is determined by how the city does the construction. If the city decides to insert the total project, we would probably issue bonds in '21. If we did the parking garage separate or the Santa Fe Depot separate, we could stagger the impact. Instead of having an impact of 15 cents all in the first year, it would be staggered over three years."