Photo: Steve Gonzales/Staff Photographer
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A Nov. 5 bond election will present Friendswood voters with six propositions in a $76.7 million bond package — the largest in the city’s history — that covers a wide range of proposed projects including drainage work and construction of a new community center.
The seven-member City Council, including the mayor, voted unanimously Aug. 12 to approve the election based on recommendations from a citizen-led committee.
Estimates are that the city’s tax rate, now 53.2 cents per $100 valuation, could increase by from 5 to 10 cents provided all six propositions are approved.
The package includes the following:
Proposition A: $2 million package for public works and facility renovations
Proposition B: $9.1 million for public safety building upgrades and a new fire station
Proposition C: a $9 million construction of a new community center/emergency shelter
Proposition D: $8 million for park improvements
Proposition E: a $7.6 million transportation package that would include various road and street improvement projects, and
Proposition F: $41 million drainage package to ease flooding throughout the city.
The council’s authorization of the propositions occurred after officials and residents provided final sometimes spirited input on the $41 million Proposition F related to drainage spending.
At a previous meeting, council had come up with the $41 million figure to account for inflation estimates, increasing the amount from $34 million.
Council members Robert Griffon and Brent Erenwert on Aug. 12 said they were comfortable with the $41 million, but they suggested they would be just as comfortable with a higher amount.
“I’d rather be safe then sorry,” said Erenwert. “I don’t want to come back in a few years and ask for more money because we were short (on spending). I believe in the research we’ve done.”
Some Friendswood residents impacted by Harvey continued to have doubts.
Lillian Wilson, a resident of historically flood-prone Quakers Landing, questioned on Aug. 12 whether the drainage package would go far enough.
“We all want the same thing,” Wilson said during the meeting. “We want a community that is safe, a community that doesn’t leave out neighborhoods that can’t prosper because they always flood … and some families will leave because they can’t afford to repair and stay. We’re all in this together, but we have to have sufficient money to be in the game to get what we need done.”
Mayor Mike Foreman had issues with comments by some residents that the city was not willing to fully address flooding.
“To imply we’re not doing anything … I don’t think we deserve the tongue-lashing we get sometimes quite frankly,” he said. “We’ve got a decision to make,and it’s tough.”
Council member Trish Hanks reiterated her emphasis on the need for partnerships with other entities to work on drainage and called the vote a difficult one.
“I wish I knew exactly who our partners are going to be and what the engineering costs will be,” she said. “We’re trying to calculate something for over the next 10 to 15 years, it’s tough. You don’t want to ask for too much and don’t want to ask for too little.”
Council member John Scott called residents’ criticisms misguided.
“I appreciate your comments,” Scott said. “I appreciate you having the courage to stand before us on television in front of an open mic and criticize for you think is important to you or to the citizens — you have that right and applaud you for that.
“No one wants what happened during Harvey to happen again. I just want you to know that I don’t take spending other people’s money lightly. It’s because of you and your concern for our community — I think that’s why we’re all up here, because it ain’t for the pay.”
The deadline to register to vote in the election is Oct. 7.