After Amarillo voters rejected a $275 million bond that would have funded the majority of a $319 million downtown spending package earlier this month, their city council is considering funding some of the projects from the spending package through debt.

According to an agenda posted by the City of Amarillo for Tuesday’s meeting, city council members will consider voting to approve a resolution that “declares the expectation to reimburse expenditures for purchasing property at 500 South Grant Street, 621 South Johnson Street, and 707 South Johnson Street … demolition of buildings, and site preparation with proceeds of future debt.”

The certificates of obligation expected to be issued will total over $5.5 million with a total cost of $6,965,336, once paid in full.

If approved, Amarillo taxpayers would be handed the bill for the debt, as a memo attached to the meeting agenda says the $5,570,000 in debt would be paid off through ad valorem taxes and a “limited pledge” from Amarillo’s waterworks and sewer system.

Council members previously approved the execution of a contract to buy the properties earlier this year, with the understanding that the abandoned warehouse located at 621 South Johnson could be used as the site for a new city hall, had Proposition A passed. Under Proposition A’s plan, Amarillo’s existing city hall would have been demolished to make room for other projects related to plans for downtown and expansion of the convention center.

Voters defeated Proposition A by a margin of nearly 24 points on November 3, with 62 percent voting against the proposition.

It is unclear what will happen to the existing city hall structure if the City of Amarillo moves its main offices to a new location. However, Amarillo businessman Alex Fairly has pledged to bring forward a new plan for an indoor arena before Christmas.

At this point, it is also unclear whether Fairly’s plan would locate the new arena near the site of the existing city hall.

But this debt issuance is not the only one on the city council’s agenda.

Council will also consider voting to issue more certificates of obligation—up to $1,050,000 more. This debt would be used to fulfill a developer’s request for reimbursement for improvements made within the Greenways Public Improvement District.

According to a memo from City Manager Jared Miller to city staff, the decision to propose the debt issuance follows a unanimous vote by the Greenways PID Advisory Board earlier this month in favor of approving the reimbursement request.

“To fund this reimbursement, City GO bond proceeds are being proposed as the funding mechanism with debt service payments for this issuance being paid by property owner PID assessments,” Miller said.

This item would also be repaid using proceeds from ad valorem taxes and a “limited pledge” from Amarillo’s waterworks and sewer system.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 17, at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on the city website.

Citizens who have questions or concerns about these issues can contact their elected officials.

Thomas Warren

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