Amarillo’s New City Hall Plans Hit A Stumbling Block In Austin
The plan started out simple enough, Amarillo's city hall needed to be replaced. The city figures put it to a vote and package it with a new civic center and that should pass and help revitalize two facilities that are badly showing their age. Should pass right?
Plan B, The Workaround
The $275M Proposition "A" failed miserably. like not even close or even in the same area code as close. So what do you do when you want something that badly and still want to make it happen? The city decided to move forward with the plan anyway. Buildings were purchased already so why not? The plan became to spend $35M on the Amarillo Hardware Company site. How would they pay for this if the voters turned it down?
Certificates of Obligation
Here's where it gets a little funky... The city figures it could make a new city hall happen with certificates of obligation. fancy term but in reality they behave pretty much the same way a bond does both are backed and paid for by tax payers like you and me but generally speaking bonds are voted for while certificates are issued. Most municipalities generally consider bonds for wants and certificates for needs. So the underlying question now becomes the age old one that has faced many of us over the years, do we really NEED this vs WANT? For the city the argument is need over want if they feel they have to move ahead.
The Case Goes To Austin
Yep, the fight over a city hall for Amarillo made it's way in to a Travis County courtroom yesterday when representatives for the city felt like two lawsuits related to the construction needed to be handled locally in the Amarillo area. One of the suits filed by Amarillo businessman Craig Gaultiere says the city has to wait three years since voters turned down the project and asks the city to put the new project on the November Ballot since in essence the city is technically issuing a bond to cover the project. The second lawsuit was more of a procedural lawsuit over the ability for the city to actually issue debt to cover the project. The Travis County judge gave the okay for the cases to be tried together locally here in the Amarillo area.
So what does this all mean? Well, for starters Amarillo's city hall is staying put for now and whatever they wanted to spend on it will now certainly go to court costs and litigation that we're all still going to end up paying for in some way or another.