City Hall

City Manager's Office to Tell Council: Expect 2012 Bond Program to Run 'Round $500 Million

It was something we heard an awful lot from City Hall in 2011: We expect that to be funded in the 2012 bond program. City officials said it about the Elm Fork Soccer Complex, expanding the Cotton Bowl to keep Texas-OU in Dallas past 2015, implementing Complete Streets and addressing the more than $10 billion worth of to-do's in the city's so-called "need inventory." And right on time, the city council will begin its new year by taking an early look at the City Manager's Office 2012 Capital Bond Program wish list.

Take a look at the 47-page briefing here; it's long, yes, but also light on details. One thing's for sure: Voters will be asked to OK a bond package that's a fraction of its '06 predecessor, which was worth $1.35 billion. Says tomorrow's briefing: "Based on current assumptions ... financial capacity exists for a $450 million to $550 million bond program to be implemented over 5 years (FY13 - FY17)." But it's early still, only $672 million from the '06 bond package has been spent, and the City Manager's Office says it'll be a little while before all the details are nailed down. That said, this is what Mary Suhm's office will recommend to council tomorrow:

Given the critical capital needs and available capacity, the November 2012 Bond Program should focus on:
  • Streets & thoroughfare improvements to promote mobility and improve air quality
  • Flood protection & storm drainage improvements to save lives and protect critical facilities
  • Economic Development to promote private investment and create jobs
That right there, says the briefing, accounts for $6 billion out of the $10 billion in needs inventory. And though the briefing's short on details, there is this: Council tomorrow will also discuss spending millions to fix the city's crap alleys (using future bond money, natch) and finally getting 'round to putting in a drainage relief tunnel for Deep Ellum and downtown that would run to State-Thomas.

About $100 million in '06 bond money's been spent on the latter, but a fully realized Mill Creek/Middle Peaks Branch/State-Thomas Drainage Relief Tunnel would run around $300 million -- which would be funded by, all together now, future bond programs. Problem is, the briefing says the project wouldn't be wrapped till somewhere between 2017 and 2019 (if they use 2012 bond funds) or 2020 to 2024 (if it's pushed till the 2016 bond election). And for folks who actually live in that part of town, like Erykah Badu's business partner, that's all a little too far off for their liking.