As of 2016 the City of Bellaire had over $104 million dollars in outstanding debt, $5600 per person, which is much higher than any of the surrounding municipalities. Almost a quarter of the of the City budget, about $9 million, will go out on debt service this year, and there’s mention of another bond issue in 2019.
Many of our residents are suffering from the financial and emotional costs of flooded homes even as homeowners are facing a property tax increase. In addition to the City’s unanticipated expenses from Hurricane Harvey there are cost overruns for the municipal buildings FF&E, maybe as much as a million dollars at this point. Property values of many Bellaire homes will decline due to flooding and so our tax revenue will suffer.
So why would City Council continue to ‘consider’ spending upwards of $4 million of the $24 million Proposition 1 bond issue on the Spruce_St&Fifth_Considerations? A plan to narrow the street behind HEB that will provide access for 18 wheelers to the new store and also provide an access street from South Rice for HEB customers. It would have a negative impact on our small businesses on the north side of Spruce, affect the parking for Jax, and present pedestrian hazards from jaywalking.
A sensible plan would be to install the necessary drainage upgrades, repave the street to withstand the heavier trucks, and use the rest of the money to repair our aging infrastructure. That’s what we always hear during the bond issue push – streets, water lines and drainage! The glitz can come later, when we pay down some of this debt.
This is from the Mayor’s blog in 2016:
Proposition 1 – Streets, Drainage and Sidewalks ($24 million)
This program is essentially the successor to the 2000 Bellaire Millennium Renewal and 2005 Rebuild Bellaire bond programs, and will continue our systematic approach to replacing streets and drainage systems according to their relative priority, with sidewalks on at least one side of each street as they are replaced. These ongoing infrastructure improvements remain the backbone of our local focus on flooding.
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