On November 5th, Denton citizens will go to the polls to decide whether the City should issue bonds totaling $221.5 million. When a City issues bonds, we are taking on debt that we must later repay. I know that you take fiscal responsibility as seriously as I do. So the most important questions we citizens should ask ourselves are 1) Does the City have a legitimate need to take on the debt? and 2) Can the City afford to pay the debt back?
As a City official, I am prohibited from advocating for or against issuing bonds. However, I can give you some factual background that may help you answer these important questions for yourself.
First, Denton is in excellent financial health. Our budget is tight as a drum, and well managed. Our credit rating is one of the best that a city our size can earn. We have become very good at meeting our debt obligations and completing projects in a timely manner.
Before calling the bond election, your City Council convened a 19-member Special Citizens’ Bond Advisory Committee (SCBAC). The SCBAC held eight public, recorded meetings over the summer. They heard presentations about many needs, potential projects, and associated costs. And most importantly, they heard testimony from the public on a wide range of issues.
The SCBAC’s chief concerns seemed to be 1) improving our streets after years of deferred maintenance; 2) providing for public safety operations; 3) protecting open space; and 4) setting aside a small percentage of the total for public art. After weeks of deliberation, the SCBAC recommended that the City Council issue bonds that would pay for these initiatives.
Ultimately your City Council voted 6-1 to place four propositions on the November ballot, based on the SCBAC’s advice and corresponding to the four areas of concern they examined.
Proposition A proposes $154 million in bonds to pay for major street improvements and maintenance. Among the recommended projects are Bonnie Brae Street, Hickory Creek Road, Ryan Road, and neighborhood streets most in need of repair or reconstruction.
Proposition B proposes $61.9 million in bonds to pay for public safety projects, including construction of a police substation on Vintage Boulevard, expansion of the main police station, and construction of an indoor police firing range.
Proposition C proposes $5 million in bonds to pay for the acquisition of park land and open space. Finally, Proposition D proposes $619,000 in bonds to be used for public art projects in keeping with our existing Public Art Policy.
The City has created a website with even more information about the bond measures: www.cityofdenton.com/en-us/2019bond. You can also find out more about voter registration, voting locations, and polling place hours at this website: www.votedenton.com.