DALLAS — The Arlington City Council decided to push back a $82.4 million bond question to the November ballot instead of May to coincide with the presidential election and allow for more time to review the list of potential projects.
A recommendation on the bond package by a citizen’s bond committee was approved by the Arlington planning and zoning commission in November. But some of the projects identified by the committee weren’t what some of the city staff had in mind.
“We had a lot of people look at the list of projects that have been included in this package, and the council just thought it best to put the election before voters in November rather than rush it before them in May,” deputy city manager Fiona Allen said.
“Some council members thought there may be a bit of a time crunch with other projects, such as the Glorypark development that simply got in the way, and the council wants to make sure everything gets fully vetted,” she said.
Some projects to be addressed with bond proceeds include: $15.3 million for residential roads, $7.4 million for upgrades to fire stations, $1.5 million for a new roof on the convention center, and nearly $3 million for sidewalks and traffic signal improvements.
The council now has a few months to sort through the potential projects, as the deadline for calling for a November election is in August.
Councilman Robert Rivera cast the sole dissenting vote on delaying the election.
“I simply felt it delays much needed projects and there is no justification for the delay,” he said. “I didn’t think it would be a rush to get it before voters in May. We have a well-educated and well-informed citizenry here in Arlington, and I believe we could have laid out the dollar figures for the voters and communicated to them what the needs are in time to hold the election in May.”
The North Texas city, which sits nearly equidistant from Dallas and Fort Worth, is currently upgrading and expanding some streets and parks, and improving right-of-way projects around Interstate 30 in the northern part of the city near the new $1 billion stadium being built for the Dallas Cowboys.
Adjacent to the new stadium is Glorypark, a much-anticipated, multi-million dollar entertainment, retail, and residential development that’s been bounced around for years.
The City Council has approved a development and financing plan for the Glorypark project that includes up to $135 million of bonds for parking garages and infrastructure upgrades. The exact timing and size of any debt issuance for the project has yet to be finalized.
Councilman Rivera said the groundbreaking for Glorypark may come in March.
The multi-use development is the brainchild of Tom Hicks, owner of the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars, and Steiner + Associates Inc., a Columbus, Ohio, developer.
“Glorypark represents what is good about a public-private partnership,” Rivera said. “It will be a positive for the city for generations to come and is a perfect complement to the Ballpark at Arlington and the new Cowboys stadium, making that part of the city truly a destination for folks from all over.”
Arlington officials project Glorypark will generate $4.3 million in annual revenue and create nearly 4,500 jobs, as well as more than 3,300 one-time construction jobs.
In September, the city sold $18.1 million of permanent improvement bonds and $7.2 million of combination tax and revenue certificates of obligation to finance the improvements near the new stadium and Glorypark development.
Yields on the bonds ranged from 3.24% with a 4% coupon maturing this year to 4.52% with a 4.5% coupon maturing in 2027. The COs yielded between 3.5% with a 5% coupon in 2008 and 4.61% with a 4.5% coupon in 2027. All the debt is callable in 2017.
Arlington carries underlying ratings of AA from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings, and Aa2 from Moody’s Investors Service.
The city’s estimated 2007 population of nearly 376,500 is up 13% from the 2000 Census tally of 332,969.