DALLAS — A $500 million general obligation bond package going to Dallas voters this fall will do little to whittle down the city’s $4.4 billion of needed street repairs and reconstruction.
Dallas has the capacity to issue $450 million to $550 million of additional GO debt without increasing the property tax rate, but more than $320 million of the fall 2012 debt package is currently earmarked for a single, large flood-control project.
Members of the City Council’s transportation committee were briefed Monday on the street needs. Several members were concerned that voters could reject the entire proposal unless the project list includes street work in their districts.
Proceeds remaining after the $323 million flood control program is financed will be divided between economic development efforts and street repairs.
Councilwoman Ann Margolin, whose north Dallas district has the highest number of substandard streets and alleys, said the focus of the 2012 bond program should be shifted from flood control to include other needs.
“I’m just not sure that we’ve got our priorities right, looking at $300 million on flood control,” Margolin said. “We need to allocate that to the streets and alleys.”
Margolin said paved alleys in her district have been so torn up by city garbage trucks that private security patrols don’t drive down them for fear of damaging their vehicles.
Assistant city manager Jill Jordan said the $4.4 billion transportation backlog includes 10,000 street and transportation projects.
Jordan said the city needs to rebuild 1,206 miles of streets and 651 miles of alleys, and repave another 521 miles of streets.
Dallas still will have a backload of $1.5 billion in unmet drainage needs after the tunnel project is funded.
Decisions will have to be made on which projects to finance in the 2012 bond package and which ones can wait until more debt capacity is obtained, said councilwoman Linda Koop.
“We don’t have the means to correct all the needs that we have for streets and alleys, not right now,” Koop said. “These are just the beginning talks. We’ll see where it goes,”
Public hearings and council briefings on the proposed bond package are scheduled through June. The council is expected to approve the final project list in August for a Nov. 6 vote.
Jordan said the city had hoped in 2006 to bring 87% of streets to a satisfactory rating by 2010, but that level was not attained due to deferred maintenance. The satisfactory level could reach 86.8% by September by using proceeds from bonds authorized in 2006, she said.
Keeping city streets at the desired rating would require $225 million of bond proceeds over the next four years, according to Jordan.
The last bond program approved by Dallas voters was $1.35 billion of GOs in November 2006.
Dallas has $1.8 billion of outstanding GO debt rated AA-plus by Standard & Poor’s and Aa1 by Moody’s Investors Service.
Dallas Water Utilities’ $1.75 billion of outstanding revenue bonds are rated Aa1 by Moody’s and AAA by Standard & Poor’s.