Wichita Falls city officials focusing on budget post bond

Local News

Wichita Falls city councilors held their first meeting since the municipal bond election and they canvassed those votes Tuesday morning. With only one proposition passing, city officials are considering where to go from here.

City officials say there are some tough decisions on the council’s plate and there’s a lot to consider before addressing a bond in the future.

Despite the outcome in the election, Mayor Stephen Santellana says the city is right on track where they were before a bond was in question. Though, they still have work to do.

“There are two or three things that I know, regardless of the vote that we are going to have to move forward with,” Santellana said. “Will I raise taxes for it? Probably not. Will I have to do something? Yeah.”

Soon, city councilors will review the budget for the next fiscal year to decide how some of the failed projects from the bond could be funded, including downtown revitalization efforts.

“Just because they voted no doesn’t mean we should continue what I’ve already done in the past. We’re going to keep doing that we might just have to shuffle some of that money around and do some of the sidewalks, curbing, things we haven’t done in the past,” Santellana said.

Deputy city manager Jim Dockery says the challenge now is prioritizing projects that need immediate funding because of already approved matching grants like the Circle Trail and Lake Wichita.

“We may have to take a couple of years before we are able to get to the matching funds for those, if at all,” Dockery said. “We would hate to turn back federal and state funding just because we don’t have the local match.”

Dockery says another bond might be a consideration, though nothing is set in stone for next year’s budget.

“With the voters having a choice as to what they could have approved, I don’t know how much smaller it could have been,” Dockery said. “Each proposition there were a few million dollars here, couple of million dollars there and those still failed.”

Dockery says they could get a clearer picture of future priorities in the next 90 days. 

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