Hutto’s $125 million bond proposal headed to November ballot


Highlights

Bonds include money for roads, a new police communications center, sports fields and park amenities.

Approval of all three parts of bond would cost $175 annually for the owner of a $250,000 home.

Ask Leslie DeHart what the city of Hutto needs the most and she will tell you more sports fields. DeHart, the recreational director for the Hutto Youth Soccer Association, said her group has had to turn away almost 100 players because there wasn’t room for them.

Part of a $125 million bond proposal Hutto is putting on the Nov. 6 ballot includes money for park improvements such as new sports fields. It also includes money for road improvements and a new communications facility for the Police Department.

If the entire bond is passed it would raise taxes ranging from $70 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home to $175 per year for the owner of a $250,000 home, according to the city’s website. The City Council voted Aug. 16 to put the bond on the ballot.

The most recent bond election Hutto had was in 2009, when voters approved $16.8 million in bonds for street improvements, upgrades to a city park and construction of a YMCA. During that election, voters turned down a $6 million bond proposition for a new sports complex.

The City Council decided in January 2017 not to put a $53.5 million bond proposal on the May 2017 ballot after City Manager Odis Jones said it needed to focus on putting together three- to five-year goals for the city.

The 2018 proposal is split into three different propositions. Proposition A provides $70 million for the construction, improvement, extension or upgrading of intersections at FM 1660 North and Limmer Loop, FM 1660 at U.S. 79, FM 1660 South and Front Street and other streets. Proposition A also includes money for other road improvements, drainage projects and sidewalks.

Proposition B provides $5 million for the construction and equipping of a police communications building.

“We’ve needed a communications center for the police for a long time,” said former City Council Member Anne Cano. She said if Hutto residents call 911 on the weekends, their calls are routed to the Williamson County sheriff’s office.

Proposition C has $50 million for construction of athletic fields and a recreation center, plus renovations and improvements to parks and trails.

Council Member Terri Grimm said during an Aug. 16 council meeting that the proposition for the parks wasn’t just about getting a sports complex but also was about providing assets to parks, including splash pads, swing sets, playgrounds and shade structures.

“If you are not a sports mom and you want to take your kids to a splash pad, this bond package will help you with that,” Grimm said during the meeting.

The park amenities that Hutto residents indicated they wanted the most in a citywide survey were shade structures, sidewalks, trails, a playground and water features. More than 400 residents participated in the survey conducted by researchers at Texas State University.

The city needs a sports complex with athletic fields, said Todd Corporan, the vice president of soccer for the Hutto Youth Baseball and Softball Association. The city has one field for youth baseball, one field for youth softball and one field for adult baseball and softball, he said.

Hutto is losing players to leagues in Taylor, Georgetown and Round Rock because there isn’t enough room for them in the city, he said. Having more sports fields would allow Hutto to host tournaments that would bring more people into town to spend money, Corporan said. “A medium-size softball tournament could bring 3,000 people into the community,” he said.

DeHart, who is also the recreational director for the Austin Texans youth soccer club, said the soccer association uses private fields in Hutto that it doesn’t own and doesn’t know if it will always be able to use. She said she supports a sports complex in Hutto that would include soccer fields the association could rent.

Hutto is full of younger families, first-time home buyers and new families who are “interested in a community that can support their child in whatever sport,” DeHart said. “We have to be able to fill those needs.”



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