Wichita Falls city officials discuss items considered for bond proposal

WICHITA FALLS - City councilors and staff spent the entire day reviewing $271 million dollars worth of projects. Some that could even end up on a future bond package.

It's part of a two day workshop for city leaders to narrow down the most beneficial and affordable projects for Wichita Falls.

Since 8 a.m. Tuesday, city staff members pitched a total of 59 projects. Officials say all are worthy projects for the community's benefit. 

All of the proposals were divided into six categories, which city councilors will rate on a scale from one to 10-- being of highest priority for the city. Those categories include:

Park improvements: $28.7 million
Lake Wichita projects: $13.1 million
Street improvements: $127 million
City/hall, public safety complex: $77 million
MPEC facilities: $3.6 million
Streetscapes & misc.: $21.9 million

"Basically I think it's up to the council now as to what they would like to see put on the ballot," deputy city manager Jim Dockery said.

The first half of project reviews began with proposals on park improvements, including four staff recommendations to complete the circle trail. Transportation director John Burrus would like to see circle trail improvements be a priority. He says the improvements goes beyond recreation.
"We want to minimize the impact that pedestrian and bicyclists have on vehicle traffic, so we're able to get them off the street but also get them safely from point A to point B," Burrus said.

Then there's Lake Wichita, which had 11 projects up for discussion.

"At this point in the process, they're considering the shoreline development projects rather than excavation of the lake, which is the big price tag for the whole project," Dockery says city staff are in favor of getting matching funds for projects such as the Kemp boat ramp extension and the Veterans Memorial Plaza.

"Lake Wichita is a project that we would all like to see done," Dockery said. "I think it's just a matter of dollars. It's a matter of prioritization and how they fit in with all of the other city needs."

City leaders also discussed street widening along Maplewood Avenue, Taft Boulevard and Lakeshore Drive. Building update proposals for the fire department administration and the police department, just to name a few.
If a bond is approved, officials will then decide if they want it on a May or November ballot for 2018.

Depending on when and if a city bond would be approved, Wichita Falls residents would be paying more in property taxes depending on the final dollar amount.

According to the city, for about every $7.2 million issued, the property tax rate for the city would need to increase by 1 cent, costing a homeowner of a $100,000 home $10 per year in additional taxes.    Or for all $271 million that would come to a 37 cent increase in the tax rate, or just over $370 in taxes for that 100,000 dollar home.

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