Guest Column by Ron Cox for the Friends of Friendswood
Beginning October 21-November 1 for early voting, and on November 5, Election
Day, you are being asked to decide on four bond propositions for Friendswood. I am a proud and committed supporter of all four.
In February of this year the City Manager made a call for volunteers to meet together to study the capital needs of the City of Friendswood and to make recommendations to the Council for a potential bond issue. Over 80 people gathered for that process. I was one of those people. Well over 50 stayed involved to the end. Even though I have lived in Friendswood now for over 22 years, I am so glad to have become acquainted with and work with so many interested and dedicated people. There were no current or past elected officials involved with the group. Many had never been active politically, nor were they appointed to City committees. All members had two things in common: They were and remain committed to both the well-being and continuing financial health of this community.
Through the use of committees and over a series of meetings, our group reviewed the city’s facility needs, our parks, our needs in streets and drainage, and our financial stability and capacity. We looked at a daunting $100 million in projects that had been identified in various plans prepared and adopted by the City Council. We learned that our facilities do not meet our needs through build-out. We learned that things wear out and need to be replaced. We learned the city has a very low debt per capita ratio. We learned that previous Councils have been very conservative with the public’s money. We learned that many projects are too expensive and the need too great for a pay-as-you-go program. Bottom line… the process developed and followed by the group produced a quality decisions culminating in recommendations in June 2013 to the City Council for these four bond propositions totaling just over $24 million. The recommendations were challenged at every level against both well thought out criteria and their cost. I am pleased the Council took those recommendations to heart and called the election for November 5.
After the election was called, many of the original study group members gathered to become the nucleus of a political action committee. The Friends of Friendswood was created for and is dedicated solely to these four propositions. In fact, the group has voted to donate any left over proceeds to the Animal Shelter.
Here is what the Friends of Friendswood urge you to do:
• Vote For – Proposition 1. The construction and expansion of two fire stations. The newest fire station to be located adjacent to the Public Safety Building will close a gap in the coverage area, and ensure a good response time for all residents. The expansion of the fire station on Woodlawn (near FM 2351) will provide the volunteers with the needed room to store equipment and train their people.
• Vote For – Proposition 2. The expansion and remodeling of the library. This expansion will provide space sufficient for maximum planned population of our city (build-out). It will provide expanded meeting space for the general public and particularly our children. It includes additional technology capabilities. This library is one of the most used of any in the area. It even became a gathering place for many citizens who used the technology available to communicate and link with their friends and loved ones and pay their bills on-line in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.
• Vote For – Proposition 3. Improvements to and expansion of existing park properties and purchase raw land for new parks and open space. We have great parks, but they are limited by land availability, are crowded, and do not meet the current or growing population needs.
• Vote For – Proposition 4. Street improvements. There are many more streets that could have been chosen. These selected are the most needed based on traffic patterns, pavement condition and type use, such as bus routes.
If you are over 65, your taxes are frozen and will not be affected. Taxes will increase, as bonds are issued, but not immediately. The City estimates that the maximum 5 cent increase will likely be in effect for as little as three years beginning in 2019 and then begin a decline after 2022.
The projects in all four propositions are needed, affordable, and merit the support of the citizens of Friendswood. I encourage you to vote for all of them.