Supporters of Denton’s upcoming bond election have formed a political action committee, launched a Facebook page and are making the rounds with their “Building a Better Denton” campaign.
City voters will decide four propositions on Tuesday, Nov. 5. If all four are approved, Denton will have the authority to issue another $221.5 million in bonds to pay for roads, public safety projects, new parkland and some public art.
All the projects in the package were reviewed by a 19-member citizens committee in meetings over several months. Denton resident Pat Smith chaired that committee.
“I’ve been giving a lot of presentations and am giving another one tonight,” Smith said Wednesday of the bond package.
When the City Council appointed the committee earlier this year, it asked the group to consider two propositions totaling $210 million.
“The committee looked at them and asked a lot of hard questions,” Smith said. “The recommendations were very different from the original proposal. The committee tried to balance what was important to people and challenged some of the assumptions that the city staff made.”
The citizen committee, for example, was a little more bullish on how much Denton will grow than the city finance staff. There’s a strong connection between how much new property value goes on the tax rolls and how much debt the city can afford, including new debt, without raising the property tax rate.
Some of Denton’s growth is triggering the needs in the first place, including Hickory Creek Road and Ryan Road in southern Denton and Bonnie Brae Street in western Denton which are all too small for their traffic load.
Some traffic congestion can be also attributed to the city’s push to rebuild roads, and the committee spent time on that, too, Smith said.
“There was a lot of conversation about the epidemic of traffic cones,” Smith said.
Residents sometimes feel that crews return year after year for different projects and are never really finished in their neighborhood, Smith said.
Unlike previous bond elections, this round will focus on finishing the work in three neighborhoods that need a leg up: Southeast Denton, the neighborhoods around Ginnings Elementary School and the neighborhoods around Denton High School.
The entire package for road repairs, sidewalks and street lighting along University Drive is in Proposition 2, which totals $154 million.
Smith said he’s seen some of the criticism on social media for including sidewalks in Proposition 2. The committee focused on neighborhoods around elementary schools for the work, making sure that children have a good, clear path to walk to school.
Smith said he walks from his home in northern Denton to his mother’s nearby and he has no sidewalks along several busy thoroughfares, including Stuart Road and Windsor and Sherman drives.
“Every child is worthy of the consternation of a sidewalk in the front yard,” Smith said, adding that the city maintains the sidewalks.
Proposition 1 is the next largest bond package, allocating $61.9 million to renovate the police department, build a new police substation and a new indoor firing range.
The bond committee included Fire Station No. 8 on the proposition list, but the City Council decided to pay for the project with certificates of obligation so that construction could begin sooner.
The council created separate propositions for parks and public art projects that the citizens committee had combined. Proposition 3 would allocate $5 million for the city to purchase open space for parklands. Proposition 4 would allocate $619,000 for public art, or 1% of Proposition 1.
The City Council amended its public art policy for Proposition 4, since the current policy requires the city to allocate 2% to 4% of spending on public buildings for public art.
The separate proposition empowers the Public Art Committee to recommend projects that could be installed in other places besides the firing range or the police department, which is already home to significant pieces.
The Denton Record-Chronicle recently published a short item explaining what happens if any of the propositions fail to pass.
Monday is the deadline to register to vote in the election. More information is available at votedenton.com.