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This week, the city of Mission held three workshops and a special meeting to discuss several items before the upcoming regular council meetings.
One of the workshops held on Mon. June 29 was held to discuss how the city will be handling the renovation of Lions Park, which will be the first all-inclusive park in Mission. During a workshop held Tues. June 30, the city reviewed the funding available for the Certificates of Obligation, the operating budget, grants and a potential bond election.
The bond election for 2020 was first discussed during a workshop held in Oct. 2019, where the mayor, city manager and council discussed a potential $84 million bond election. The proposed use for the funds from the bond election would cover 18 projects in Mission including drainage improvements, renovations to city hall, the relocation of one of the fire departments and the animal shelter, a new library and downtown parking improvements.
During the workshop, the city’s financial advisor Dusty Traylor with RBC Capital Markets spoke about how the city’s certificates of obligation would impact the area. Traylor presented the council with a draft analysis they prepared looking at $28.3 million for various projects.
“We’re looking at the estimated impact for a financing of $28.3 million and how that would impact the city’s interest and sinking [I&S] fund tax rate,” Traylor said, noting that would add to the debt of the city. “The estimated I&S tax rate necessary to support all the indebtedness including the $28.3 million would take the rate to approximately 11.87 cents, that represents an increase of approximately 3.39 cents on the I&S tax rate.”
Traylor said that depending on how the drainage projects go, the revenue associated from those has the potential to lower that 3.39 cent increase “fairly dramatically” depending on the annual collections.
“The city does have a certain amount of funds that are available from drainage revenues, so I’m going to assume the inclusion of about $700,000 per year of revenues that are available from drainage funds to include in this analysis,” Traylor said. “That will then help to bring the tax rate impact down from the analysis we previously discussed.”
City Manager Randy Perez said historically, the I&S tax rate would go up, and the maintenance and operations (M&O) rate would go down. Once Traylor recalculated, he said after inclusion of the drainage funds, the estimate I&S tax rate increase would actually be about 1.5 cents rather than 3.39.
“That $700,000 allocated from the drainage fund would have a very material positive impact on bringing that I&S tax rate impact down,” Traylor said, noting it would be a 20-year term of commitment for the amortization of bonds. “I do think you’ll have some optionality around years seven, eight or nine to make some adjustments to the revenues that you’re allocating from the drainage funds. You might not have to use the $700,000 to offset the I&S tax rate for the 20-year period.”
Council member Ruben Plata asked how last week’s decision to enter into a $20 million agreement with Performance Services, Inc. on new water meters would impact taxes further. Traylor said because the agreement ensures the city will be refunded money from the meters, because it is solely focused on the city’s utility system, “The revenues necessary to repay the debt service on that lease should be coming from the city’s utility system revenues,” Traylor said. “It is my understanding that those projects should generate revenue to pay for itself, based on the way it was presented.”
Notice for the passing of a bond issue or certificate of obligation went up from 30 days to 45 days.
Perez said they could bring the bond issue even lower by allocating $3.2 million funding from the last bond issue in 2018 toward city facility improvements, which would reduce the dollar amount for the bond issue. Mayor Armando O’caña said he didn’t want to reallocate funding for the I&S tax rate with the bond issue, because that funding should go to paying off current projects currently underway in the city.
Council member Beto Vela proposed that the city consider a bond election of $20 million rather than $30 million, because it would only raise I&S taxes by one cent. Since it was a workshop, nothing was voted on this week.
Lions Park Update
Lions Park, located at 1500 Kika De La Garza Loop, is set to be the first all-inclusive park in Mission. During a city council meeting held in January this year, city council approved ARKiiFORM, LLC as the architect for the project.
Lions Park currently houses two baseball fields, a playground, two picnic tables, six covered picnic shelters, a Scout Hut, the community center and the Texas Citrus Fiesta office.
ARKiiFORM, LLC is currently overseeing two roofing projects in Mission for the Speer Memorial Library and the Mission Historical Museum. Charlie Garcia III is the lead architect on the projects, and was present during the workshop this week to answer questions on the scope of work and what phase they were in.
The original intent for the project would include a redesign that would include an inclusive playscape redesign, a redesign of the Mission Community Center, a redesign of the park and a potential satellite recycling station. After some questioning about the logistics from the mayor and council, O’caña asked that the final phase of the project having to do with the recycling station be removed, and the city would handle it as another project.
The city is in Phase I of the project right now.
Garcia presented what Phase I looks like.
“Phase I is the park itself, the all-inclusive areas,” Garcia said. “We wanted to try and include a 10,000 sq. ft. area for the all-inclusive park.”
Garcia also included an additional 3,000 sq. ft. area in the Lions Park that could be used for handicap parking and access to the park. He said there was an irrigation area near the south side they were proposing to beautify, and explained how trails will loop around the park area.
Council discussed the different areas that could be used for potential additional parking, and if some of the space could be used to build a new space for the Texas Citrus Fiesta offices.
Garcia said ARKiiFORM was already putting drawings of the project together, and it would take four to five weeks to get a construction bidder’s permit set. He and the city council will be meeting again in the coming weeks to determine next steps and the status of the project.