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In a special meeting May 15, the Garland City Council quickly put the will expressed by voters into action, authorizing the start of projects from a $423.7 million May 4 bond election and swearing in a new Mayor and four Council Members elected from that same ballot.
Council, which had promised an immediate start and a rapid implementation of eight bond propositions, delivered even before its new oaths of office were administered.
At its annual retreat, Council identified several projects that could start immediately. Wednesday, it amended the 2019 Capital Improvements Program to put $6 million of the 2019 bond projects in motion.
Much of the money being spent first will help acquire new locations for the Walnut Creek Branch Library and Fire Stations 1 and 6.
Design work was also approved for some projects, including a new animal shelter, a police evidence facility and lighting for the sports fields at Winters Park.
Money was also allocated to master plan the City’s planned improvements to Rick Oden Park, trails development and aquatics.
Outgoing Mayor Lori Barnett Dodson noted the bond election first in recalling accomplishments from her one year in that role. Her successor, Mayor Scott LeMay, underlined Dodson’s impact.
“I would like for all of you to know the debt of gratitude that City of Garland owes to Mayor Lori Dodson,” LeMay said before replacing Dodson’s nameplate with his own at City Hall. Turning to Dodson, who he had served with both on Council and on the Plan Commission, he continued, “We’ve gotten to know each other over the years. I will miss seeing you here. My friend Lori stepped in when we needed her.”
Dodson is the only departing member of council. Four of those elected May 4 – Mayor LeMay and Council Members Jerry Nickerson, Robert John Smith and Robert Vera – were coming off previous terms.
The new Mayor described his own successor and the lone newcomer, District 7 Council Member Dylan Hedrick, as “truly the right person.”
Council also approved the issuance of a short-term tax note that will set the stage for City Council to increase the tax rate by approximately 6.5 cents for 2019. Council and staff have been upfront in telling residents the cost of the bond program. The issuance of short-term notes is the next step toward keeping the full list of projects on a seven- to 10-year track while minimalizing the City’s long-term debt burden. The City Council will consider and set the tax rate in August 2019.