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What’s on city bond issue proposal?

Total of $125.5M for improvements referred to Midlothian voters May 1

Bill Spinks
Midlothian Mirror
Midlothian City Hall.

A city that is growing as fast as Midlothian has to look forward to keep up with facility needs, and the Midlothian City Council took steps this month to do that.

The council in a 7-0 vote approved placing a bond issue referendum on the May 1 election ballot during its Feb. 9 meeting.

The bond program contains four propositions for the issuance of tax bonds totaling $125.5 million if all four pass:

Proposition A — the construction of a public safety and police headquarters at a cost of $46 million;

Proposition B — a new City Hall and public library for $25 million;

Proposition C — a recreation center for $19 million; and

Proposition D — city street and road improvements for $35.5 million.

“This has been a really long process to get us to this point,” Mayor Pro Tem Justin Coffman said. “Many years of planning by our city staff and a really long process by some dedicated citizens who gave up their free time in order to come together to pinpoint the city’s greatest needs and attempt to address them.”

Coffman added that the council could legally take all four items to a vote and issue the funding for them, but instead chose to take them to the people and let them make the decision.

“It was the will of the City Council to let the will of the people decide what they want their city to look like in five or 10 or 20 years,” Coffman said.

City Manager Chris Dick said during a January workshop, the council agreed to push forward with the four propositions. A 25-person citizen planning group was assembled and held a series of meetings to come up with a final resolution.

Dick said how quickly the bond money is spent, if approved, will be up to the council based on the city’s financial condition at that time. Dick noted that the city’s previous bond program in 2017 was planned out incrementally over eight years.

Mayor Richard Reno implied that the recreation center, if the bond for it is approved, would be managed by the YMCA.

Councilmembers discussed separating the City Hall and library into different propositions on the ballot, but decided to keep them paired together because of more cost certainty and the alignment with the city’s downtown plan. The vote in favor of keeping the two together was 5-2, with councilmembers Ted Miller and Hud Hartson voting against

Deadline for registering to vote in the May election is April 1. Early voting will take place April 19-23 and April 26-27 at vote center locations.

The council also unanimously approved an agreement with Mayes Media Group to provide public relations and public education communication services for the bond referendum for a total of $90,850.

In the city’s November 2017 bond referendum, three of four propositions passed: bonds for the construction of a new Fire Station No. 1 which opened in August of last year and a fire training facility which opened in 2019; bonds for street and road improvements which are still underway; and bonds for completion of Midlothian Community Park which is also still underway. One proposition for constructing and equipping a multipurpose public safety center did not pass.

Dick said the approach to informing voters will be similar to the last bond election in 2017 with mail-outs to residents, a promotional video and social media. Dick said the city can only provide information and cannot advocate for the package with taxpayer funds.