$120 million price tag; streets, public safety, parks, library make up bond package

A truck drives through a rough patch of road on Goodwin Lane near Oak Creek Elementry on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Goodwin Lane, along with Conrads Lane, will be improved for $21.4 million in the city’s proposed 2019 bond.

As they did in 2013, New Braunfels voters overwhelmingly approved all propositions in a $120 million bond filled with projects hoped to advance growth and future city development.

All four measures easily passed Saturday, after 3,332 of the city’s 49,387 registered voters (6.7%) cast ballots in early voting, via mail and at six polling locations on Saturday. Results are unofficial until New Braunfels City Council certifies final results May 13. 

“To me this is an affirmation of city staff, city council, the 4B Board, planning commission, parks and recreation, Bond Advisory Committee and all of the public input meetings,” Mayor Barron Casteel said. “This process (officially) started a few years ago but to me it’s been more like five years.

“We took time because we wanted to give citizens a vote on long-term investments.”

Residents cast “for” or “against” votes on proposals to enhance transportation infrastructure ($44,512,490); parks and recreation ($16,547,420); public safety ($50,414,750); and library ($5,525,340).  

Proposition 1’s $52.6 million in projects reduced by $8 million in roadway impact fees during the bond term. It will finance the second phase of Klein Road improvements ($13 million); reconstruct Goodwin Lane and Conrads Lane ($21.4 million); begin extensions of Farm-to-Market Road 306 and Business 35 ($3.2 million); and additional citywide street improvements ($15 million). For: 2,818 (84.6%); Against: 513 (15.4%)

Proposition 2 begins the first phase of the sports complex, with the $25,784,920 cost reduced by a $15 million contribution by the New Braunfels Economic Development Corp. The measure also funds Comal Cemetery wall stabilization ($5,262,500) add all abilities equipment at city parks ($500,000). For: 2,330 (70.3%); Against: 985 (29.7%)

Proposition 3 will construct a brand-new police department headquarters and Veterans Memorial ($36,311,250); and new fire stations No. 2 ($7,367,500) and No. 3 ($6,736,000). For: 2,754 (82.7%); Against: 578 (17.3%)

Proposition 4 will fund library improvements at Westside Community Center. For: 2,470 (74.2%); Against: 857 (25.8%)

“If you put things together the right way and give the public opportunity to approve them, and do it without raising the tax rate, then you keep right on making investments we all know are necessary,” Casteel said. “We included every group in this.”

The election was the culmination of a process launched in October 2017, when the city began assembling members for a Bond Advisory Committee, charged with recommending bond projects to the city council. The 24-member BAC met in January 2018 and spent the next two months paring down a list of 155 potential projects totaling $750 million to 38 totaling $287 million. 

In late February 2018 it finalized a list of 21 projects totaling $202 million, which council approved for developmental studies over several months. The BAC reconvened in September to prioritize and rank its final list of projects, which were returned to council.

Several BAC-endorsed projects didn’t make the city’s $86 million bond in 2013 – including the two new fire stations and work to stabilize Comal Cemetery’s eroding riverbank wall – were approved in the final 2019 bond proposal, which city officials said represented a total investment of $143 million – without a tax increase – over the bond term.

Several BAC members also served on the 2013 BAC, which had only weeks to recommend $120 million in projects later scaled down to $86 million. The Rev. Ray Still, Oakwood Church pastor, served as non-voting chair of both boards.

“The 24-member bond committee did such a great job,” Casteel said. “Everybody who participated in this process helped us make this investment. 

“We can’t stop growth that’s around us, but we can handle it with the right planning and right investments, and I can’t thank the voters enough for supporting these investments.” 

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