The Kerrville City Council is letting the residents of Kerrville know that they may take out debt to finance drainage and road work.

City staff and consultants have been at work conducting studies and developing plans to fix the road and drainage problems that plague the town. All of the projects combined would cost about $43 million, but the projects would not be done all at once. Rather, each project is prioritized based on how desperately they are needed, according to the council.

The debt that the city could take on — up to $10.5 million — would pay for the full-debt street reconstruction for what are deemed as the worst roads and for the two most prioritized drainage projects: a drainage channel at Take-It-Easy RV Resort and improving drainage around Lois Street. 

“We’ve paid off a couple of our loans during 2019, and we’re now to the point where we only have one outstanding bond issuance that’s being paid by property taxes,” said Amy Dozier, the city’s chief financial officer, at the regularly scheduled council meeting on Tuesday. “So we have some additional debt capacity starting in fiscal year 2020.”

The projects were prioritized using what City Manager Mark McDaniel called “sophisticated equipment” to analyze the roads of Kerrville to see which were the worst.

But Kerrville resident Peggy McKay, who was present at the meeting, said she would like the voters of the town to have more input.

“I’d like to see bond issues with voter approval and maybe have them give more input on which streets (are fixed),” McKay said. “I think that the people who live in the town and use these streets have a real good idea of the most needy streets.”

McDaniel said that voters’ input is important and necessary, but surveying the roads using equipment makes the process more fair and objective, because the average resident may not be aware of every road in Kerrville, or may have preference for one road more than another.

“When we get into voter approval in certain things, it becomes a bit of a popularity contest,” McDaniel said. “If I live on a cul-de-sac, and there’s only five people in my cul-de-sac, and it’s completely destroyed, people may not vote for it, because they don’t travel down it.”

He added that waiting for voters to vote on a bond or which roads to fix would take significantly more time than the city has, since the road situation in Kerrville is not ideal.

According to a National Citizens Survey conducted this year, 94 percent of Kerrville residents were in favor of taking on debt for street repairs, while 86 percent were in favor of taking on debt for drainage. The average street quality in Kerrville is below the national benchmark.

The debt the city may take on would take the form of certificates of obligation. The current tax rate would remain unchanged.

“We’re considering (taking on debt),” Dozier said. “This isn’t actually issuing the debt, not actually going through with everything. It’s putting everyone on notice that council is considering this debt issuance, and we’ll be going down that path.”

Also approved at the meeting was a resolution creating a town-gown compact between the city and Schreiner University and a second reading for creating a planned development district.

Council also approved changing codes to match a newly passed bill regarding fee schedules and residential building permits.

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