Mallette Drive tops Victoria's priorities for capital improvements

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

March 25, 2013 at 8:04 p.m.
Updated March 24, 2013 at 10:25 p.m.

Subdivision expansion, a new school and budding businesses along Mallette Drive make it a prime candidate for Victoria's capital improvement plan.

However, some city council members say the focus should be on repairing residential roads or on thoroughfares that spur economic growth.

The seven-person city council met for a workshop session Monday evening to discuss the five-year capital improvement plan, which outlines its priorities of street and utility projects.

Mayor Will Armstrong and other council members hesitated to nail down specific projects or accept staff's recommendations.

Armstrong said with the city's mode of growth, shifting priorities may become necessary to help with the new investments.

"I would hate to get too committed before there's some of these (business) announcements," Armstrong said. "We may want to relook at the thoroughfare projects. It's hard to plan when you're in ... a growth mode."

While Mallette Drive has development, it also has hundreds of undeveloped acres.

"We have bunches of nice streets serving undeveloped land," Armstrong said, cautioning the council to think twice about the recommendation.

Councilman David Hagan agreed, albeit for different reasons.

"There's a lot of hesitance on the limited resources that remain," Hagan said. "Everything is very tentative at this point."

While Hagan said city staff heavily recommended widening Mallette Drive, he wanted to explore options to address residential streets.

"People in Tanglewood are very concerned about residential roads," Hagan said.

He said the dilemma came down to dealing with thoroughfares or taking care of the residential streets "that are falling apart."

According to a report by Public Works Director Lynn Short, the city has $124.2 million in planned projects

through 2018, and $149.6 million in available funding. That leaves $25.4 million unappropriated, assuming the tax rate stays constant.

However, most of the available funding through 2018, $16.6 million, is from the half-cent sales tax and therefore not eligible to spend on residential streets.

Short said the money can only be spent on infrastructure projects "that enhance or enable economic development."

Finance Director Gilbert Reyna gave a presentation on the city's estimated annual debt capacity.

"Keep in mind this is just a planning tool," Reyna said. "This is not concrete. We have some time."

If Mallette Drive remains a priority for 2014, the debt capacity would be $3 million.

Through 2016, the debt capacity would then be $1.5 million, from Mallette Drive and Red River Street.

In 2017 and 2018, there would be no debt capacity.

From 2019 through 2023, Reyna estimated the city would have $16 million in debt capacity over those five years.

By 2024, although a ways out, the debt service would drop by $3 million.

"That means there is a major decrease in debt service," Reyna said. "Then you have a lot of good choices and the ability to issue bonds."

Councilman Emett Alvarez said he wants to see Juan Linn and Red River streets moved up in priority.

"I want to see something in the middle get done," he said. "I'll take it a quarter-mile at a time if I have to."

Among the city staff's recommendations was deferring three downtown projects to 2014, 2016 and 2017.

Staff also recommended deferring the Glascow Street extension and the off-channel reservoir project through 2019.

"It bothers me a little to push these downtown projects back," Armstrong said. "Sometimes it's better just to get something finished, even if you have to wait a little longer on some other projects."

Council will meet again at 5 p.m. April 2 in the council chambers, 107 W. Juan Linn St., to go over the list again.



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