Amarillo City Council members will consider taking the first step toward issuing certificates of obligation (COs) to build a new aquatic facility in their upcoming meeting this Tuesday.

According to the agenda for their March 24 meeting, council members will vote on publishing notice of intention to issue COs. A memo from the city manager attached to the agenda states the CO in question will be for an amount of up to $8,150,000 and will fund “costs incurred for acquiring, construction, improving, and equipping park facilities.” 

Further information in the memo shows the project planned is a new aquatic facility following the city’s controversial decision in 2018 to close the Thompson Park Pool in north Amarillo. This vote by the city council is expected to be taken as part of a broad consent agenda.

While replacing the Thompson Park Pool has been a discussion of public interest in Amarillo for some time, such a vote is likely to draw criticism as the city responds to the COVID-19 outbreak and has discouraged gatherings of more than 10 people.

According to the Texas Comptroller’s website, COs are often associated with emergency spending. However, since state law doesn’t limit their usage for important emergency purposes, local governments frequently use them for luxury spending projects instead of using general obligation bonds—which require voter approval. 

The meeting will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, at Amarillo City Hall.

Thomas Warren

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