Amarillo voters might get a say on the city council’s proposed $35 million city hall project after all.

On Tuesday, Amarillo businessman Craig Gualtiere filed his petitions seeking an election over a city council proposal to move forward with issuing $35 million in certificates of obligation to fund construction and renovations of a new city hall facility in downtown Amarillo. The project has become the subject of controversy after being promoted by the city council, despite the failure of a $275 million bond in November that would have funded a package of projects (one of which was a new city hall).

In a statement to Texas Scorecard, Gualtiere said he has collected more than 10,000 signatures from voters seeking an election on the item—several thousand more than the number required to call such an election—and believes this election will allow taxpayers to have the final say on taking on debt for a project that they would ultimately be required to pay off.

“Mayor Nelson and the city council have decided to use COs [certificates of obligation] to fund a new city hall,” Gualtiere said. “COs are used by city councils to incur long-term debt without the consent of citizens who will ultimately have to repay the debt. To be clear, the issue here is not moving Amarillo’s city hall; the primary issue and purpose of the petition drive is our council’s use of certificates of obligation to fund any project without asking taxpayers.”

Gualtiere went on to say he believes this election should garner the support of all residents, including those who support the project, due to the need for citizens to have the final say on tax-funded debt.

“I believe it is critical for Amarillo residents to have the right to vote on this project,” Gualriere said. “After all, we will be the ones footing the bill for decades to come. Whether or not you agree with moving city hall, we simply cannot allow the city to use certificates of obligation as a vehicle to go around voters.”

Following the certification of Gualtiere’s petitions, it is unclear when the Amarillo City Council will call the election for the new city hall.

Thomas Warren

Thomas Warren, III is the editor-in-chief of the Amarillo Pioneer newspaper in Amarillo, Texas.

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