All about the bond: Answers to your most frequently-asked questions.
Vision Stephenville is a group of residents who have come together to support the city’s upcoming bond election and help voters get a clear understanding of the propositions they will vote on May 1.
The following Q&A was provided to Beneath the Surface News by Vision Stephenville and addresses some of the most frequently-asked questions surrounding the five propositions.
Q. What is the bond issue all about?
A. The bond issue is about making Stephenville a better community. This is called community development because it improves facilities we all use like parks, recreation, streets, sidewalks, library, and invests in specific areas to build opportunities for existing and new businesses to thrive.
Think of the best communities/cities you have visited and then apply that to what can be in Stephenville. This bond issue is an opportunity for the present and future.
Q. What issues will be addressed on the ballot?
A. Proposition A (recreation center, public library, senior center), Proposition B (downtown revitalization), Proposition C (Belknap Street), Proposition D (rebuilding First, Second, Fifth, Sixth, Cage and Swan streets), Proposition E (Bosque River Trail extension).
Q. Why are the projects listed A, B, C, D, and E on the ballot? Why not all together?
A. The projects are all different and each is a stand-alone project. Citizens may vote for all five, fewer or none.
Q. Does Stephenville need a new library and what will it be like?
A. The proposed new library is a state-of-the-art center for learning and activity. The current library served 54,000 visits in 2019, even though it is not fully accessible or handicapped compliant and was built in 1935 as a post office.
Q. Does Stephenville need new gyms and recreation?
A. Stephenville’s historic recreation center was built during the depression of the 1930s. It is one gym, not ADA compliant, and in constant use. The proposed new recreation center will include two new gyms for basketball, volleyball, pickle ball, new restrooms, concessions and a variety of other activities. This proposed facility will triple Stephenville’s ability to have local team play of all ages as well as hosting tournaments with visiting teams.
Q. Why does Stephenville need a new senior citizen activity center?
A. The existing Senior Center welcomed 9,000 visits in 2019. However, the building has remained relatively unchanged for over 50 years. According to engineers, the building is long past its usefulness and requires significant money to make the repairs. Even with repairs, it provides inadequate space, mobility issues that cannot be fixed and has often been described as hazardous.
Q. Why are these buildings together instead of separate?
A. It is more cost effective to build a single building to house all three facilities rather than build each separately. This allows for shared space between the departments and reduces the total number of square feet required.
Q. How much will this building cost?
A. $8 million. Q. Will my property tax increase? By how much?
The $8 million expenditure will cost approximately $57.02 per year for a home valued at $150,000 or less than 16 cents per day
Q. Why are we being asked to pass downtown revitalization?
A. Some of the most frequents comments about Stephenville’s downtown area include, “Downtown is really decaying” or “I wish the square was more like Granbury’s.”
People in Stephenville regularly travel to other cities because they offer excitement, attractiveness and more opportunities. These can be here in Stephenville. This proposition will begin the “build it and they will come” momentum.
Q. How much will this cost? How much will my taxes be increased?
A. The revitalization project downtown will cost $5.385 million. This will cost $38.43 per year for a $150,000 home or less than 11 cents per day. Q. What is included in the project?
A.This project will replace very old water and sewer lines, rebuild and renew the brick streets, create a green space and activity area around the courthouse, widen sidewalks, provide new lighting, remove curbs, provide better drainage, landscaping and lighting, improve the block where the downtown plaza and Walk of Fame is located, and create an inviting, walkable and attractive historic district downtown.
Over $4.5 million of the cost of Proposition B is in streets, sidewalks, utilities and drainage. Q. How will passage of this help Stephenville and me?
A .Stephenville has the opportunity to become an attraction for its citizens and visitors. This project will increase development opportunities in the historic area, attract new retail businesses, increase property value and become a focal point for events and attractions.
Q. Why Improve Belknap Street?
A. Of all the original brick streets in Stephenville, originally built in the 1930s, Belknap has been the most abused with unrepaired cuts for utility connections, deteriorating base material, and aging utility lines. It is also a street that carries traffic downtown and from downtown to the city park. This project will include new utilities and drainage improvements along with new or repaired curb and gutter and sidewalks.
Q. If this passes, will Belknap be rebuilt with brick?
A. Yes, areas that are currently brick, will remain brick. Q. How much will this cost?
A. Belknap Street will be rebuilt at a cost of $2.16 million. The tax cost will be $15.54 per year for a home valued at $150,000 or less than 4.5 cents per day.
Q. How long will the street last if bricked?
A. Brick streets built as proposed will last approximately 75-100 years. Asphalt streets last 15-20 years and concrete streets last approximately 30-40 years.
Q. Why did the city pick First, Second, Fifth, Sixth, Cage, and Swan Streets to improve?
A. These streets have deteriorated badly. Engineers were asked to submit recommendations for streets needing rebuilding and to prioritize them. When evaluating the street condition along with the utilities condition beneath the streets, these streets in Proposition D were the ones selected as most in need among residential streets and providing the most “bang for the buck.”
Q. How much will this cost?
A. The cost for rebuilding these streets is $3.73 million and will increase taxes by $26.72 per year for a home valued at $150,000 or less than 7.5 cents per day. Q. What does Proposition E involve?
A. This proposition is for the continued extension of the Bosque River Trail. The goal is to eventually connect the existing trail to Optimist Jaycee Park where it will connect with new sidewalks along the rebuilt Harbin Drive.
Q. How much will this cost?
A. This project will cost $2 million and will increase taxes on a $150,000 home by $14.42 per year or less than 4 cents per day.
Q. Do people really use the Bosque River Trail?
A. Yes. People enjoy walking parts of the trail for enjoyment and exercise every day. It is like a linear park through the community.
Q. If all five propositions pass, what will be the total cost?
A. The combined cost of all the propositions is $21.275 million.
Q. How much will the average tax increase be?
A. To pay for the total bond issue will increase taxes on a $150,000 home by $152.12 per year or less than 42 cents per day—less than half the cost of a cup of coffee or soft drink per day.
Q. How do we know the money won’t be wasted on something else?
A. State law requires proceeds from a bond election may only be used for its intended purpose that was outlined in the city ordinance passed by city council when the election was called.
Q. How do Stephenville’s city property taxes compare to:
Granbury..........0.396117 cents Cleburne..........0.760092 cents Dublin..............0.9638 cent
Mineral Wells...0.69120 cents Weatherford.....0.4879 cents Stephenville.....0.4550 cents Q. What about improvements to Long Street and Harbin Drive?
A. Long Street and Harbin Drive will be rebuilt without additional tax costs to Stephenville citizens. The engineering plans are over 90% complete on Harbin Drive and funding has been secured. Construction will begin in a few months. Long Street is part of another project which will replace all the water and sewer main lines and rebuild the street. This will begin after engineering is completed and bids received. The funding has been identified and will not require additional taxes.
Q. When this bond issue passes, when will construction begin?
A. As soon as the bonds are sold, the engineering process will begin. Projects will be done in stages, but citizens should begin seeing construction within six months to a year
Q. Is now the time to do this?
A. Yes. Prices continue to increase. These projects will cost much more in the future than now. Bond markets are beginning to show upward movements but are still very low. The city expects to get a favorable interest rate because of timing and Stephenville’s good bond rating. This will save taxpayers a lot of money over the term of the bonds.
Economic indicators show the economy in Stephenville is still very strong.