By Ken Hutchenrider,
Chairman, Richardson Vote YES Campaign Committee
The Nov. 3 election on our city’s Bond Issue and City Charter amendments is another opportunity for citizens to keep moving Richardson forward as a great place to live and work. Our committee of citizens who, like you, choose to live in Richardson, endorses them without reservation.
Both of these efforts take care of our city in three ways:
- They are a direct response to citizen input
- They are proactive in fixing infrastructure and governance before there is deterioration or a crisis
- They are fiscally sound by upgrading services, public safety and governance without raising taxes.
The bond issue is for $115 million in four separate propositions: public buildings, streets, parks and sidewalks. Virtually every section of the city is represented in the expenditures. The proposals represent good, solid and basic infrastructure needs. There is no Taj Mahal in these proposals.
And the best part is, NO NEW TAXES. We are receiving enhanced services and better protection at no real cost to the citizens. The funding is there because old bonds were paid off early.
Buildings, at $67 million, account for 58 percent of the funds. The largest project is the expansion and renovation of the Richardson Public Safety Complex at Belt Line Road and Greenville. Also included is funding for renovations to several structures including the Richardson Animal Shelter, Fire Station #3 replacement, Library updates, and the addition of a parking lot for the City’s Fire Training Center.
Street projects will receive $38.57 million to renovate streets and alleys in various areas of the city, add turn lanes at busy intersections, upgrade traffic signals and deliver a flood prevention project impacting West Belt Line Road and Cottonwood Drive.
Parks will receive $7.2 million to replace five neighborhood playgrounds, expand hike and bike trails, renovate the Richardson Senior Center and provide an updated pool building and equipment for the Canyon Creek Public Pool.
Sidewalks will receive $2.2 million to replace more than 10 miles of sidewalks in five of the city’s 27 sidewalk regions. (In the 2006 and 2010 bond referendums, voters approved projects in the other 22 regions not included in the 2015 proposal.)
A group of 11 volunteer citizens representing a cross section of the city spent nine months meeting and reviewing the City Charter, a document required by state law that governs how the city operates. It was last reviewed in 1989, and many of the changes are of a housekeeping nature to prevent the Charter from conflicting with state law and federal law.
Key among changes in the proposed Charter is a provision that requires the City Council to review the Charter at least every 10 years. That provision should prevent the City from facing this many revisions in the future.
The change that has attracted the most attention governs how the City will fill vacancies for the mayor or City Council positions. The current charter has language left over from our old system of choosing a mayor, which was done by the council choosing a mayor from among its ranks. When, by popular referendum, the City switched to an elected mayor, the old language of replacement still stood. The new language requires the City to call a special election so voters can fill the vacant mayor’s slot. For Council members, the language calls for a special election if there are two or more vacancies.
Another change grants the City Council the right to prohibit public input when it calls an emergency meeting. An emergency Council meeting has been called only once in recent history, and that was when the City agreed to house and offer services to refugees from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It seems appropriate for the Council to keep its focus on the issue at hand when it is an emergency.
It is important to note that these Charter amendments were proposed by a group of citizens, not politicians.
The only downside to the Charter is that you, as a voter, are required by state law to choose for or against on each of the 83 proposed changes.
Please take the time to vote FOR on each of the proposed Charter amendments, and FOR on the bond proposals. Let’s keep Richardson moving forward!
Ken Hutchenrider, Chairman,
Richardson Vote YES Campaign Committee
(More information on these issues can be found on the City’s website,www.cor.net)