DALLAS — Addison voters head to the polls Tuesday to weigh in on a $58 million bond referendum that opponents feel the city hasn’t outlined thoroughly or in a timely manner.
The general obligation bond package includes $33 million for an aviation museum with conference meeting space, $16 million for expansion to the city’s theatre and conference center, $6 million for a parking garage, and about $3 million for improvements to an aircraft ramp area adjacent to the museum and offices within the proposed facility.
Bill Signs, founder of Addison Citizens for Responsible Government, said officials are “trying to sneak this onto the ballot.”
“The city hasn’t sent anything out to voters to inform them of this vote ... zip, zero, nothing,” he said. “Why does one citizen in a town of 15,000 have to get out and inform the citizenry about this? They could’ve included something in the water bill … anything. Instead we’ve not heard a peep about this from the town.”
Signs said he first became aware of the bond election about a month ago.
Jim Duffy, chairman of Addison Citizens Supporting Art, Culture and Entertainment, a political action committee supporting the bond package, said the opposition’s “literature is totally inaccurate” and he expects the bond election will pass just as most have historically in the past in the city.
“This was something that came up pretty suddenly and maybe the city didn’t do enough to get information before voters,” Duffy said. “But we got our brochure out to let people know this bond package doesn’t create new debt, it just gives the city the option to fund these projects, which we’d like to see done. It has little to do with today’s economic climate and is more about enhancing the city’s facilities.”
Duffy also said city officials have shown 20 years of fiscal prudence that’s evident in the bond rating.
The city could not be reached for comment yesterday.
In May, Standard & Poor’s elevated the city’s credit to AAA, citing “continued healthy financial trends and strong financial management.”
Analyst James Breeding said then that Standard & Poor’s expected sound management to “offset the inherent risks associated with the economic base’s concentration among commercial property, as well as the town’s relatively higher vulnerability to macroeconomic fluctuations.”
Located bout 15 miles north of downtown Dallas, Addison is a “desirable location for commercial and retail businesses,” and sales-tax revenue, which has increased each of the past five years, accounts for roughly 40% of general-fund revenue, according to analysts.
Also in May, Moody’s Investors Service upgraded its rating for Addison’s GO credit to Aa2 from Aa3 due to the city’s prudent fiscal management, high level of reserves, and strong long-term budgeting and planning.
Addison’s current population of about 15,830 is an increase of nearly 12% since the 2000 census figure of 14,166. Still, the vast majority of the city is commercial and retail businesses with more than 170 restaurants and 22 hotels spread across its 4.35 square miles.
First Southwest Co. is the financial adviser to the north Dallas suburb and Vinson & Elkins LLP is bond counsel.