Amarillo voters pushed back against proposals for a downtown-centered bond and extended terms for the Amarillo mayor and city council members on Tuesday night, but voters did approve city council meeting biweekly instead of every week.
Unofficial election results show Proposition A was defeated by Amarillo voters on Tuesday, with 62 percent voting against. Proposition A would have approved a $275 million bond to fund the majority of a $319 million spending package focused on downtown projects.
Had Proposition A passed, Amarillo taxpayers would have seen a 39 percent property tax increase to pay for a number of projects, including the relocation of Amarillo City Hall, construction of a second downtown parking garage, and renovations to the Amarillo Civic Center Complex.
Following the defeat of Proposition A, Build Amarillo PAC, which is promoting a favorable vote on the measure, issued a statement calling the result “extremely unfortunate.”
“It’s extremely unfortunate we won’t be doing [the civic center project] in the near future because we have great momentum in Amarillo right now,” Build Amarillo’s statement read.
Save Amarillo PAC opposed the push for Proposition A and the other propositions that were on the ballot. In a post to Facebook on Wednesday morning, Save Amarillo chairman Len Walker congratulated Amarillo voters on the result and said the door is now open to finding a better plan for renovating the civic center.
“By defeating Prop A, you have sent the downtown crowd a loud and clear message,” Walker said. “We all know the civic center needs attention, and now, all of us need to try and find a realistic and pragmatic plan to get that done.”
Much of the opposition to Proposition A centered around the cost of the indoor arena that was included in the proposal, which industry experts have disputed as being too expensive. Opponents also pointed to the other projects included in the bond that were unrelated to the civic center renovation, such as renovations to a nearby historic train depot and the creation of a central park.
Amarillo businessman Alex Fairly, who opposed Proposition A during the election, is expected to bring forward a new plan for renovations to the Amarillo Civic Center Complex following the measure’s defeat.
In a video posted to Fairly’s Inspire Amarillo website days before the election, he pledged to bring forward his plan by Christmas. Fairly says his plan will cost less than $110 million.
“The group of people that put together the Hodgetown deal has been working very hard on this for two months,” Fairly said. “If this proposition doesn’t pass on November 3, by Christmas Day that group of people will bring a proposal to the city council to consider that will be a brand new coliseum downtown, across the street from Hodgetown.”
In addition to Proposition A, Amarillo voters also defeated Proposition B, which would have extended the terms of the Amarillo mayor and city council members by two years each. The proposal failed on a narrower margin, with 52 percent voting against.
Proponents of Proposition B had argued the change was necessary to provide four-year terms to allow elected officials to become better acclimated to their positions.
Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson had also pushed the proposal, saying longer terms with staggered elections would prevent voters from “flipping the whole boat again” by electing a completely new city council.
Opponents argued the plan was flawed by not clearly defining when the term extensions would take place or how any staggering of elections would be instituted. Concerns were also raised about providing four-year terms, which would have been the first time since the Amarillo City Charter’s adoption in 1913 that local elected officials would serve a term longer than two years.
With Proposition B’s defeat, Amarillo voters will continue to see regular elections every two years, with all five members of the city council coming up for election in May of odd-numbered years.
While Propositions A and B were defeated, 57 percent of voters backed Proposition C, which now means the Amarillo City Council is now expected to meet on a biweekly schedule instead of weekly. It is unclear when this change will take effect.