In May, the City of Wichita Falls put seven propositions on a bond election for voters, but only one of the seven propositions got approved in the election. Despite the outcome and still facing needed upgrades and improvements, city leaders said giving up on them is not an option if the city is going to grow and provide an increased quality of life for its residents.
“If we do pass them all, May 5th is going to be one of the biggest days in the history of Wichita Falls ever,” Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Henry Florsheim in an interview prior to the election.
However, when the ballots were counted, May 5, did not turn out as Florsheim and many others had hoped. Wichitans had the option of voting yes on a tax increase to fund bonds for up to seven projects, including upgrades to city streets, improvements to the MPEC, as well as a new municipal government center.
“People voting no on every proposition would surprise me more,” Florsheim said. “There are a couple of propositions that wouldn’t surprise me if they got a lot of no votes or got voted down,” said Florsheim.
If all bond issues would have passed, a home worth $100,000 would see $160 per year in property taxes. More than 12,000 voters said no to six out of seven issues. The lone exception was proposition C which will fund street rehabilitation projects and improvements including the extension of Maplewood to McNiel and widening of a portion of Taft.
Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana said the majority of voters could see the need and value of good streets, but balked at the price of some of what they saw as a non-essential project.
“If you talk to the majority of people, they like the street ideas and some people like the trails. I just think when they walked into those polls and those voting booths, they see that big $77 million and couple other things, it made them vote no down the line,” said Mayor Santellana.
As for what to do next, Wichita Falls Deputy City Manager Jim Dockery said a future bond election may not be out of the question; but trying to do those projects later may mean added costs.
“We may have to take a couple of years before we are able to get to the matching funds for those if at all. And we would hate to turn back federal and state funding just because we don’t have the local match,” said Dockery.
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