Much to the chagrin of some Bayridge residents, the city council seems near agreement on a $145 million bond proposition that would not include several projects meant to help the Hurricane Harvey-stricken neighborhood.
The council, during a workshop meant to settle on a final list of projects for a possible May bond referendum — the city’s first in 27 years — sided with a staff proposal to remove a $30 million diversion channel near the neighborhood, but several council members also questioned another $1.8 million meant to help insurance ratings in the area.
Part of the plan for Bayridge included spending money to raise the height of the levee around the neighborhood’s retention pond as part of an effort to reduce how much homeowners would spend on flood insurance, Councilman Larry Millican said. Many other neighborhoods would appreciate similar treatment, making it potentially unfair to do so only for one area, Councilman Nick Long said.
But local residents objected to the council’s questioning of the funding.
“Seriously, you all,” resident Marika Fuller said later in the workshop. “You’re going to squabble over $1.8 million? When we’re already going to spend what on an animal shelter?”
Some other residents asked the council to be compassionate, including Kyrsten Garcia, who talked about having to decide during Hurricane Harvey whether to put her 8-month-old daughter in a canoe and leave the neighborhood.
“As a single parent to a toddler, I can’t go through that again,” she said.
In addition to removing the controversial drainage projects, the council also seemed to support a staff recommendation to remove all parts of the bond except for drainage and traffic projects. That means that for the time being, the city is backing away from a plan to build a $24.5 million library, Assistant City Manager Ogden “Bo” Bass said.
More than 75 percent of the 2,023 people who took a recent survey opposed plans to build the library, according to the results.
Members of the library board, such as Tommy Frankovich, on Tuesday asked the council to reconsider the new branch at a future date, but said they understood why they were pursuing the bond without the new facility.
A bond proposition of $145 million would not require a property tax increase if voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax increase, said Angie Steelman, the city’s director of budget and project management.
The state sales and use tax rate is 6.25 percent, but local municipalities can charge up to an additional 2 percent tax, City Attorney Nghiem Doan said.
League City charges a 1.75 percent sales tax, giving city officials the option to increase it by .25 percent, or a quarter-cent, Doan said.
City administrators for months have talked about a possible bond election as a means to fund the massive costs of drainage improvements residents are demanding after Hurricane Harvey, which badly flooded houses and businesses in the city in August 2017.
Hurricane Harvey dropped more than 50 inches of rain on some parts of Galveston County, overwhelming drainage systems and leaving many residents with flooded homes and calling for improvements to their neighborhood drainage systems.
The storm flooded about 8,000 homes in League City alone, officials said.
As with previous work sessions, the council did not take official action on a final list of bond projects. The council has until Feb. 15 to call for a May bond election, officials said.