Aging facilities push West Lake leaders to think about bonds

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WEST LAKE HILLS, Texas (KXAN) – Several Central Texas cities are asking voters for bonds to upgrade municipal facilities, and West Lake Hills may add its name to the list.

The municipal offices in West Lake Hills were built in the 70’s. They function as the police department along with city offices, almost 50 years of weather and wear is starting to take a toll.

“You can see there’s rotting wood; you can see if you went inside damage from rains, there’s mold,” said West Lake Hills Mayor Linda Anthony.

Sidewalks are also not up to the Americans with Disabilities Act standards and Anthony says the wiring in the police department is described as inadequate. “They need to be updated, they need to be safer not only for our residents but for those people who come to visit,” she said.

To bring it up to standards, architectural firms say the city would need to start from scratch which would cost a lot more than their $5 million annual budget.

“This is a big step for small communities. West Lake Hills to my knowledge has not had a bond election and when you talk about raising people’s property taxes, you get their attention in a hurry,” said Anthony. “It’s very important for residents to understand why you want to raise their taxes, that you’re not just doing it because you can, that there are very specific needs that the community has.”

The type of bond the city is discussing is a general obligation bond which would be paid back by property taxes. The median home value in West Lake tops a million dollars.

“It is a community conversation and we need to engage everybody in talking about and deciding what kind of community they want to have and what they are willing to pay for,” said Anthony.

The mayor says the bond would also cover improvements to roads and the drainage system totaling around $10 million.

Earlier this year voters in Lakeway approved a $23 million bond for a new police station. Since then, the city has bought the land and plans to break ground next month. Right now, they expect it to be complete in the spring of 2019.

Police in Buda moved into their new headquarters a week and a half ago. It was paid for with bond money voters approved in 2014.

In 2011, voters in Georgetown approved a bond to build a new police and fire headquarters. The 76,000 square foot facility, which opened in 2015, has training space for both departments.

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