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Education Fort Worth City Council studies $399M bond proposal to meet growth

Fort Worth City Council studies $399M bond proposal to meet growth

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As Fort Worth continues to grow in population, so, too, must it grow in ways to accommodate its residents.

That was a topic of discussion Jan. 30 as the Fort Worth City Council received an update on the proposed 2018 bond program from Assistant City Manager Jay Chapa.

The City Council has yet to call an election for the bond issue of $399,500,000. If it does, it could be on the May 5 ballot.

“If we’re going to continue to grow 20,000 to 25,000 people a year, we need to be planning and thinking about bond referendas every four or five years,” City Manager David Cooke said.

Chapa stressed that there would be no property tax rate increase to accompany the bond package.

“This is a bond package that will not have a negative impact on our tax rate,” he said.

Goals and objectives include maintaining and improving existing infrastructure; providing mobility and city services in growth areas; enhancing transportation and recreational corridors; allowing for flexibility and partnership opportunities; and achieving balance and fiscal stewardship.

The bond package proposes 65 percent of the money for streets and pedestrian mobility and 21 percent for parks and recreation. Five percent is targeted for a new police station on the Southside, 3 percent for a new animal care shelter on the far Northside and 2 percent for library services. Public art percentages are set at the same rate as the 2014 bond referendum – 1 percent for transportation propositions and 2 percent for all others.

A change in the proposal now has a new library farther south to address the growing population in that part of the city, Chapa said. Also, the Wedgwood Library would be preserved.

Another change concerns the Northwest Community Center to now provide flexibility for an alternative location through partnering with the school district or a nonprofit organization.

Chapa said if the council votes to call the bond election, a public education plan will be put in place, combining it with educating folks on the city’s economic development strategic plan.

“We think it’s a good way to do both education on the election itself and get more information out on the strategic plan,” he said. “We could produce an overall message that would incorporate goals of the project with various projects of the plan and how they would fit as we go forward.”

District 9 Councilwoman Ann Zadeh praised the execution of the most recent 2014 bond.

“We’re no longer doing the kind of things where we have projects we’re paying for with money from 2004 and 2008,” she said.

Key safety improvements include neighborhood/school safety ($5 million), bridge replacement ($10 million), railroad crossings ($5 million) and street lights ($10 million).

The neighborhood park development project includes master planning, design and construction of eight neighborhood parks. Typical amenities include playground, picnic shelter, walking trail and practice fields. A total projected cost would be $3.76 million.

The community park development project includes six community parks. Amenities could include, but are not limited to, athletic fields, walking/biking trails, picnic facilities, soccer fields, playgrounds, park roads and parking for a total projected cost of $14.5 million.

Walks and trails would include the Trinity Trails Connection, a complete trail connection from the San Joaquin Trail to River Legacy Park trail ($4 million), and citywide construction of new trails to address gaps in connections ($3.5 million).

Funding is also planned for athletic field lighting ($3 million) and community center improvements (more than $28 million). More than $7 million is planned for a new clubhouse for Rockwood Golf Course.

And more than $1.3 million would be set aside for design and construction of public utility infrastructure to support new facilities at the Fort Worth Zoo.

The remaining schedule for the bond program is to make final adjustments during February and for the council to vote on the proposed election on Feb. 6 or 13, public education on the proposal through May and a public vote on May 5.

WESTCLIFF ZONING CHANGES

Also in the work session, the council heard an update on proposed zoning changes for about 34 acres in the Westcliff area of the Texas Christian University/Westcliff area.

The Feb. 6 City Council agenda will contain a proposal to initiate the rezoning process. Councilman Brian Byrd made the request to rezone residential properties to zoning classifications that are consistent with the existing land uses and Comprehensive Plan.

If approved, future land uses will include single-family residential, low-density residential, medium-density multi-family, institutional, neighborhood commercial, light industrial, heavy industrial and public park.

A meeting was held with the affected property owners in November, and no one has expressed opposition to date. Public hearings for the rezoning are scheduled before the Zoning Commission on March 14 and the City Council on April 3.

ENGINEERING AGREEMENT

In its regular meeting, the council authorized execution of an engineering agreement with Freese and Nichols Inc. for $3,099,361 for the Lake Arlington Lift Station and Force Main Project.

Portions of the existing wastewater collection system serving the Village Creek Wastewater basin are at capacity, with some areas experiencing wet weather overflows.

Increased capacity is necessary to handle projected growth in the area, which also includes Burleson and Crowley. In addition, it is anticipated that proposed development west of Crowley will lift wastewater into the Village Creek Basin starting in 2019.

The proposed lift station, with an ultimate capacity of 80 million gallons per day, will be placed upstream of Lake Arlington and the force main (42-inch diameter, about 37,000 linear feet) will extend from the lift station, around Lake Arlington and discharge into the existing Village Creek collection system north of Lake Arlington, near the intersection of U.S. Highway 180 (Lancaster Avenue).

In addition to the contract amount, $5,630,000 is required for project management, utility coordination and real property acquisition.

Engineering for the Lake Arlington project is one component of an overall larger project with a budget of $46,630,000. Design is expected to start in March and be completed by July 2019. Construction is expected to start in November 2019 and be completed by March 2022.

RAIDER EXPRESS TAX

ABATEMENT APPROVED

The City Council, following a public hearing, approved a tax abatement agreement with Raider Express, a transportation company headquartered in Fort Worth. The company is looking to expand its operations with plans to build a new 61,000-square-foot office, training and maintenance facility located near State Highway 287 and Willow Springs Road.

The company currently has a facility in Hastings, Nebraska, and is considering a location in York, Nebraska, as well as others along the Interstate 35 corridor.

The city will grant a 50 percent tax abatement on the incremental increase in value of real and personal property for a period of five years if Raider Express meets certain requirements. The company will make at least $13,000,000 in real property improvements by Dec. 31, 2019. It must also locate new taxable business personal property on the project site having a minimum taxable appraised value specified by these appraisal dates:

at least $56.1 million by Jan. 1, 2021; at least $96 million by Jan. 1, 2023; and at least $136.1 million by Jan. 1, 2025.

The company must spend the greater of 25 percent or $3,050,000 of all hard construction costs for the development with Fort Worth contractors. It must also spend the greater of 15 percent or $1,830,000 of all hard construction costs with contractors that are Fort Worth Certified Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprise companies.

Raider Express must provide these minimum number of full-time jobs on the project site in the following years: at least 442 full-time jobs in 2020 and 2021, at least 532 full-time jobs in 2022 and 2023, and at least 622 full-time jobs in 2024.

The company must fill a minimum of 30 percent of all full-time jobs with Fort Worth residents and 15 percent of all full-time jobs with Fort Worth central city residents, regardless of the total number of full-time jobs provided on the project site. Employment of Fort Worth central city residents will count as employment of Fort Worth residents.

Further, the company must spend the greater of 35 percent or $1,225,000 in annual discretionary service and supply expenses with Fort Worth companies, and the greater of 15 percent or $525,000 with companies that are Fort Worth Certified M/WBE owned companies.

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