Richardson Voters Approve $115 Million Bond Election And All Measures In Charter Amendment Election
Unofficial election results show Richardson voters have approved all four measures of the proposed $115 million 2015 Bond Election and all propositions that were part of a Charter amendment election. More than 8,000 registered voters (13.3 percent) turned out at the polls to take part in the election, and approved most of the measures by an average of 82 percent for the 83 Charter amendment propositions and 76 percent for the four bond propositions.
The Nov. 3 election will not be made official until the city council canvasses the results at its Nov. 16 meeting.
Richardson’s bond election was composed of four propositions. The combined total of all four proposals was $115 million. The approved proposals are:
- Proposition 1 ($67 million) — includes funding for renovations to several municipal buildings including the Richardson Animal Shelter and Library, the replacement of Fire Station #3, the addition of a parking lot at the City’s Fire Training Center, and the expansion and renovation of the Richardson Public Safety Complex.
- Proposition 2 ($38.57 million) — includes funding for street repair and rehabilitation. Money is also set aside for alley reconstruction, new traffic signals and battery backup units for the signals.
- Proposition 3 ($7.23 million) — includes money for the replacement of playground equipment at five parks, the expansion of hike and bike trails at Breckinridge Park and the Spring Creek Nature Area, renovations to the Senior Center and updates at the Canyon Creek Pool.
- Proposition 4 ($2.2 million) — includes funds to replace more than 10 miles of sidewalks.
Development of the 2015 bond election began in late 2014 when the Richardson City Council gave direction to City staff to begin looking at a possible bond package to expand on infrastructure improvements already underway and to address needs at the Richardson Public Safety Complex and other municipal facilities.
The $115 million in bonds will be sold over six years in what is called a serial sale, which means that only a portion of the authorized debt will be issued each year. By structuring the sale this way, new debt is issued when existing debt is scheduled to be paid off.
“I am proud our community was able to offer a no tax rate increase bond proposal for voters to consider,” said Richardson Mayor Paul Voelker. “Our attention to fiscal policy, and the work done to identify meaningful community projects, made the bond proposals an easy decision for voters, and I especially congratulate our fine City staff for identifying projects that will make significant impacts on our community in the years to come.”
The issuance of debt in increments allows bonds to not only be sold without the need to raise the tax rate, but also allows the City to have flexibility in the amount that is sold each year in order to make adjustments as economic and market factors dictate. The specific projects in the bond program may also be added or removed during the implementation of the bond program as future economic conditions and priorities change.
“We are now in the process of putting together a timetable to begin the projects approved in the 2015 bond election,” said City Manager Dan Johnson. “While some projects will take several years to begin because of the serial sale of the bonds to fund them, there are other projects that we will be able to initiate as early as next year. Our goal is to create a plan to move forward on all of the approved projects as quickly as possible.”
Eighty three charter amendment proposals were included on the Nov. 3 ballot. Among the propositions approved is a revision that creates a procedure for filling Council vacancies (calling a special election for a mayoral vacancy and having the Council appoint replacements for vacant Council seats, unless there are two Council seats vacant at which time a special election would be called). The majority of the rest of the approved amendments were language updates (some portions of the current Charter were written in the 1950s); capitalization and spelling updates; and eliminations of sections where state law now covers their intent.
The proposed amendments were recommended by an 11-member Charter Review Commission that was appointed by the City Council and convened in October 2014 to review the document. During its eight month review process the group held regular meetings and two open forums to solicit community feedback for recommended changes. The Commission reported its findings and recommendations to the City Council in June of this year. (More on the commission and its work is available at www.cor.net/charter.)
“This was not an easy process and I commend the Charter Review Commission for all its time and hard work to bring these considerations to voters,” said Voelker. “The city’s Charter is our number one most important document as a community, and this work is not taken lightly. I know it was also a challenge to voters, and I very much appreciate and thank everyone who was able to take the time to educate themselves on this process and to visit the polls to voice their decision.”
In order to provide adequate information, and an easy method to assist voters at the polls, the City created a “blue sheet” checklist that voters could fill out by hand or online to take in to the voting booth with them. The reason for the large number of propositions was due to the time that had passed since the last Charter review, which took place in 1989. Among the amendments passed was also a requirement to appoint a Charter Review Commission at least every 10 years. That amendment was proposed by the Charter Review Commission in order to help avoid such large Charter amendment elections in the future.