Why did the City decide to hold a bond election?
Through the years, residents of Richardson have encouraged us to continue periodically reinvesting in public infrastructure and key facilities to further enhance the community’s terrific neighborhoods and overall quality of life for Richardson’s future success and viability.
Business leaders have also consistently expressed interest in locating and growing in communities where their employees have recreational opportunities outside of work and where the City continually reinvests in public infrastructure. Business leaders have shared with us that a community's willingness to reinvest in itself over time reflects their likely commitment to maintaining it in the future. Both quality of life and infrastructure reinvestment positively influence their interest in investing their business resources in the community. Bringing businesses to Richardson and keeping them here is a key goal for our community.
Based on this community input and feedback we began to assess our future needs last fall with a review of 450 projects totaling $500 million and started initial discussions about the timing of an election. In reviewing the merits of the projects, we considered feedback we hear regularly from Richardson residents and local business leaders. Through this systematic evaluation and review by the City Council, community stakeholders, and City Staff we refined the list four months later to a selection of 32 projects throughout the City grouped into four propositions totaling $66 million.
Is the timing really right for a bond election? Why now?
In evaluating the timing of a proposed bond election, we heard from finance experts who informed us that now appears to be a good time to sell bonds. The slump in the construction market is expected to allow us to find low bids for projects, while historically low interest rates are anticipated to allow us to borrow money at a low cost. In addition, the City’s tax base appears stable, while the property tax rate in Richardson remains lower than most other surrounding cities in the Metroplex.
Ultimately we concluded the timing is right to place the bond proposal before Richardson voters and its now up to voters to decide. In order to provide flexibility at the polls, we decided to group the projects into four propositions that can be voted on independently.
What kind of bonds would be sold to finance the proposed projects?
If approved, the proposed projects would be funded through the use of General Obligation Bonds which are debt instruments issued by local governments to raise funds for public works. GO bonds give municipalities a tool to raise funds for projects that will not provide direct sources of revenue--roads and bridges, parks and equipment, and the like. As a result, GO bonds are typically used to fund projects that will serve the entire community.
General obligation bonds (or GO bonds for short) are backed by the credit of the issuing municipality based on its ability to generate property tax revenues. The bonds proposed in the May 8 election would be tied to a property tax increase to support financing for the bonds issued..
When will the bonds be issued?
If approved, the City would move to sell the bonds early this summer, before the adoption of the 2010-2011 Budget and the 2011 Municipal Tax Rate.
What is the term of the bonds? When will the six cent increase in taxes stop?
The term of the bonds will be 20 years. This does not necessarily mean that after 20 years your taxes will be reduced. When the 6 cents ceases to exist will be the result of a variety of financial and economic factors over the life of the debt. The City Council annually reviews these factors as part of the budget adoption process.
What is the proposed percent increase in taxes?
The proposed $66 million Bond Program involves a tax rate increase from the current level of $0.57516 per $100 value to $0.63516 per $100 value. This is an increase of 6 cents per 100 value, or about 10%. The annual tax increase for a home with a value of $182,810 (Richardson's average home value) would be $110 or $9 per month.
What is the tax rate impact of the Bond Election by proposition and in total?
If all four of the propositions are approved, it is estimated that a 6-cent municipal tax rate increase will be needed to support financing for the bonds. That would have about a $110 annual impact on the average homeowner in Richardson which is approximately $9 per month.
Amount Tax Rate Impact
Per $100 of valuation
Proposition 1 - Street Improvement $24,710,000 2.2 ¢ Proposition 2 – Park and Recreational Facilities $22,645,000 2.1 ¢ Proposition 3 - Municipal Public Buildings $10,495,000 1 ¢ Proposition 4 - Neighborhood Vitality Projects $8,150,000 .7 ¢ Total $66,000,000 6 ¢
Will the funds from the bonds approved really be spent on what I vote for?
Authorized funds can only be spent within the scope of the approved categories, as they appeared on the Bond Election ballot. For example, money approved for Street Improvements cannot and will be not be spent on Park and Recreational facilities.
I hear that some of the projects will receive additional financing from non-City resources. Which projects and how much outside financing?
Project Proposed City Funding Other Funding Sources Project Total Galatyn Overpass $525,000 $2,972,000 Federal Highway Funds
$625,000 Reserved City Capital Funds
$4,122,000 UTD Roadways $2,836,000 $900,000
Lake Highlands Soccer Association Funding
$3,736,000 Central Trail $2,500,000 $2,500,000
Dallas County Funding
$5,000,000 Total $5,861,000 $6,997,000 $12,858,000
Does the Bond Program include money for employee salaries?
A 5% budget factor has been added to all projects in the proposed program for capital project administration. This funding is used to pay the allocated cost of salaries of employees who work directly on Bond projects. These are reasonable and allowable capital expenses. These employees are the project managers that direct the activities of design consultants and administer the construction contracts, inspectors who monitor the quality of the contractor's work as well as accountants who track funding and process payments. We have used this method to help finance bond related employees in previous bond programs as do almost all cities in the Metroplex.
Is the City of Richardson’s financial position such that it is able to take on more debt?
A central objective of fiscal management is maintaining a reasonable balance between revenues for operations and for debt service. Richardson uses financial policies and prudent budget practices to maintain that fiscal balance. An important part of fiscal management is periodic capital improvement programs for the aging infrastructure and physical assets of the municipality to not let a “backlog” of capital needs develop. A good external measurement of the city’s financial posture is the positive bond ratings of the rating agencies: Moody’s and Standard & Poors.
The City has an AAA bond rating? What does that mean and how does that impact the City financially?
The Standard & Poors AAA bond rating for Richardson is the highest credit rating indicator available to indicate credit quality of an issuer. Credit ratings are provided on each bond issue, and periodically revisited by the rating agency to assure continued favorable attributes are present. Only 14 Texas cities have this high rating, and only 169 cities in the U.S. have this high rating. This rating allows the city to achieve the lowest interest rates in the market for our debt issues, and can provide several hundred-thousand dollars of savings over the life of the debt, depending on issue size. Credit ratings are reviewed based on community and regional economic factors, policies, management practices, budgetary and fiscal performance, and issue uses and debt repayment features.
Accountability and transparency are important as I make my decision. Can you address the City’s fiscal integrity?
The City’s financial, treasury, and budgetary practices are controlled by key City Charter provisions, City Council adopted policies, state and federal laws and guidelines, bond covenants, industry accounting guidelines and management best practices. The City annually performs an externally-conducted audit of all of the City’s accounts and funds, including all capital funds. State and federal agencies make periodic audits or reviews of City programs and related accounting. The City’s audit is reported annually in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) in accordance with industry guidelines for format and content, and provided on the City’s website for review and distribution. The City of Richardson has received the national Governmental Finance Officers Association’s (GFOA’s) Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for 31 years for the City’s CAFR Report, reflecting compliance with this recognized best practice standard. Quarterly reports on budget, investments and capital project are provided to the City Council.
Proposition 1 – Street Improvements
How were the streets and alleys included in the proposed Bond Program for repair selected?
Proposition 1 includes the repair and renovation to 32 alleys, seven collector streets and 15 residential streets. Selection of streets and alleys to be included in the program was based on a City-wide survey of pavement conditions, field assessments and funding priorities.
The survey was performed by a consulting firm using a high-tech van that utilizes sensors, lasers and video to create a composite score called a Pavement Condition Index (PCI) for every road surface in Richardson. The PCI score ranks a roadway condition from 0-100 with 100 being the best.
Alley segments with a PCI score of 55 or lower, and street segments with a score of 50 or lower, have been selected for repair. In total, 4.8 miles of alleys, 4.5 miles of collector streets and 8.6 miles of residential streets will receive full depth concrete repairs to replace failed sections of pavement.
Why did the Galatyn overpass extension project become part of the bond election?
Plans to extend the Galatyn overpass across US 75 have been under discussion for several decades, but were solidified when the City updated its comprehensive plan in 1993. At that time, the need for a bridge to improve east/west connectivity was determined, and placed on the City’s thoroughfare plan.
Construction of the overpass and east side connection began in 1999 and was completed in 2001, with plans to create the west side connection in the future. The west side extension was developed in order to create additional access to the Galatyn Park DART light rail station, as well as benefit traffic flow for surrounding corporate parks in the Telecom Corridor Area ©. The need for the extension was further highlighted when the Urban Land Institute recommended the extension in its year 2000 study on transit oriented development in Richardson.
In 2006, Richardson voters approved passage of a bond proposition to pay for the extension project by a margin of 84%. The bonds were sold, but, due to quickly rising inflationary construction costs at the time and delays from partnering federal and state agencies, bids were not awarded and the money was placed into a reserve account.
If proposition one is approved, funding for the Galatyn overpass extension would be met through an 80/20 matching grant, in which federal funding will cover 80% of the cost for construction, while the City will pay for the remaining 20%.
Where does the Galatyn Overpass Extension go?
The Galatyn Extension will tie into the existing Galatyn Overpass at the southbound frontage road of US 75 and extend west and then north, tying into Palisades Blvd east of Collins Blvd. A bridge structure will be built over the frontage road lanes and the extension will quickly descend to meet grade near Palisades Blvd., similar to the existing eastbound leg of the existing structure. The materials and design of the project will match the existing structure.
Will there be access for pedestrians to the Galatyn Park Overpass extension?
The existing bridge over US 75 has no sidewalks and was not designed for pedestrian access. At the time this was constructed, the City did not have enough funding to widen the structure to include sidewalks. For this reason, the extension to the west will not have sidewalks either since widening the existing structure at this point would be cost prohibitive. There is, however, a desire to provide pedestrian access across US 75 somewhere near the DART Galatyn Station, and the City continues to seek outside funding for a future pedestrian overpass project.
Proposition 2 – Park and Recreational Facilities
Where will the "New Parks" in the Northrich and Heights areas be located?
The City has had preliminary discussions with RISD about using the Northrich Elementary property, but the specific location has not yet been determined.
Likewise the specific location for a new Heights neighborhood park has yet to be determined.
Will the City use eminent domain to acquire the property needed to locate parks in the Northrich and Heights neighborhoods?
No. While the City has the ability to utilize eminent domain for such purposes, there is no anticipation such a measure would need to be taken for the purchase of park property. If the proposition is approved, the City will begin searching for viable locations, and will chose other locations if property owners are not willing to sell.
I would like to know more about the proposed pool at Heights. Will it be indoor, outdoor, suitable for competition? Just need more information, please.
Our studies have shown that aquatics in the United States has changed over time, with contemporary offerings such as lazy rivers, splash playgrounds, water slides, and zero water depth entry points. The existing pool in Heights Park is worn out after over 45 years of service with issues like: cracked concrete, water line issues, deck drain issues, and bath houses that cost more to repair than to replace and are not ADA compliant. There is currently 8,000 sq. ft. of aquatic features available at Arapaho Pool and we are planning to replace that facility with a balanced approach of contemporary amenities. The proposed plan for that aquatics facility could include but is not limited to a possible lap pool, recreational pool, baby pool and splash playground. The possibilities and construction of this facility will be further looked at based upon the results of the 2010 Bond Election and would also include citizen input.
What is reason for tearing down & reconstructing Heights Center? Does it have "structural problems" as we were told about Huffhines?
In reference to your question regarding the proposed rebuilding of Heights Recreation Center, I have included details from a report done by the consultants who evaluated both Heights and Huffhines Recreation Centers and their condition. Huffhines Recreation Center has been rebuilt since the study concluded with 2006 Bond funding. The state of Heights Recreation Center generated a recommendation to the City of Richardson by the consultants to replace the facility. This recommendation was based on a combination of substantial moisture infiltration, structural wall and foundation displacement, lack of fire alarm systems, non-compliance with ADA, and other non-compliance issues relevant to current safety codes. The foundation and structural integrity of the building is also not satisfactory. To renovate this facility will cost the city close to, if not more than, what it would to replace the facility with a new facility of greater programming flexibility elsewhere on the site. The current recreation center occupies 14,000 sq. ft. and the recent public input calls for a 25,000 sq. ft. facility. The new Huffhines Recreation Center was built to provide a facility of what the public desires and the rebuilding of Heights Recreation Center would also match Huffhines at 25,000 sq. ft. The existing Heights Recreation Center has served the citizens of Richardson well for over 40 years, but the facility can no longer meet the needs of the community.
I would like more details of the construction of trails at Point North and Canyon Creek. How will this affect the wildlife in this area?
The trails within the parks are a portion of the projects in the Parks Bond package and are loop trails within the parks but do not extended into any fragile wildlife areas. These trails are intended to provide leisure and wellness walking opportunities within the parks. We have made similar trail improvements in other parks with 6 foot wide trails, Mimosa Park and Heights Park are good examples, and we have found these park trail improvements to be extremely popular with the park visitors. We want to extend these opportunities to more Richardson residents by adding additional loop trails in more parks.
Proposition 3 – Municipal Public Buildings
What is a canine visitation center and why is it needed?
The canine visitation area encloses an existing courtyard at the Animal Shelter. It is a room that will allow potential adoptive families to interact and 'test drive' a dog to determine if it fits into their family. Ultimately, the goal of the addition is to increase adoptions as it will allow a bond to develop more easily between the pets and people. Additionally, If a dog is not accustomed to human contact, the visitation room will allow volunteers and staff to interact with dogs assisting with the dogs socialization. Simply, the more sociable the dog is, the more adoptable it is.
What happened to the self check machine at the library, and will it be replaced?
The Library's self check machine was old and frequently needed repairs. Repairs are now on hold because the proposed RFID system in the bond election will include self check but with a different type of machine. Depending on the results of the bond election, we would plan to repair or replace the old system with another RF self check system or, install an RFID system which will include multiple self check stations.
Proposition 4 – Neighborhood Vitality Projects
What is the purpose of the Neighborhood Vitality Program?
The program was created to strengthen the image of older neighborhoods, to provide incentives for continued community reinvestment, and to utilize homeowner and neighborhood associations to identify and design projects.
How much has been devoted to this program in past bond programs?
The 1997 Bond Program allocated $5,100,000 for Neighborhood Vitality Program projects; the 2006 Bond Program allocated $4,370,000.
How will the $2 million earmarked for neighborhood vitality projects in the 2010 Bond Program be allocated?
The City will hold a Call for Projects. Both formal and informal neighborhood groups will be invited to submit projects for consideration. Ultimately City Council will determine which projects will be funded.
What types of projects have been completed as part of this program in the past?
Screening walls, entry features and enhancement to bridges have been the most commonly funded projects.
Where can I learn more about past neighborhood vitality projects?
A complete inventory of all completed projects is available at www.cor.net/ns.
Do I have to be registered to vote?
Yes, to vote in any election, you must be a registered voter eligible to vote that day. The deadline for registering to vote in the May 8, 2010 election was April 8, 2010.
When and where is Early Voting?
All Richardson voters can vote Early on the City of Richardson Bond Election at the Richardson Civic Center/City Hall or any other Dallas County Early Voting location beginning Monday, April 26 and continuing through Tuesday, May 4, 2010. The dates and times are listed below:
April 26 - April 30 (Monday - Friday) 8:00 am to 5:00 pm May 1 (Saturday) 8:00 am to 5:00 pm May 2 (Sunday) 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm May 3 - May 4 (Monday and Tuesday) 7:00 am to 7:00 pm
When and where do I vote on Election Day?
The general election will be held on Saturday, May 8, 2010 with polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 22 locations throughout the city.
For information about voting locations and precincts, visit the Election Day Information page. You can also call the Richardson City Secretary’s office at 972-744-4292 or the Dallas County Elections Department at 214-637-7937.
How can I track election results on Election Day?
Election results will be available online via the City’s website and via the Dallas County Elections web site (www.dalcoelections.org).
Election results will also be available on the Citizens Information Television cable channel.
Time Warner – Channel 16
ATT U-Verse – Channel 99