Arlington Bond Package Draws Fire

City says $141 bond package will not raise taxes

A bond package aimed at improving roads, parks and flood control is up for vote next month in Arlington, but critics say the city is already carrying too much debt.

The $141 million package would be used to make improvements at area parks and fire stations and improve flood control. Most of the money -- $100 million -- would be used to rebuild roads across the city.

Proponents say taxes will not go up if voters approve the bonds.

"It does not increase taxes -- that's a very important message to get out there," said Jeff Williams, of the Citizens for Arlington. "It does not increase taxes and (is) very crucial to Arlington's future."

But Richard Weber, of the Arlington Alliance for Responsible Government, said the city cannot guarantee that taxes will not go up.

The claim is "one thing that infuriates me," he said.

"They want to issue the bonds over five years," Weber said. "We could have nine new members on the City Council in 20 months. There's no way anyone can guarantee it will not raise property taxes."

According to supporters and city leaders, the bonds can be paid back using the existing tax rate so taxes would not rise.

Critics said Arlington is already faced with too much debt from other bond packages, including the funding for the new Cowboys stadium. Opponents said the move would be fiscally irresponsible, even though the city has the highest bond rating in Tarrant County.

"It's not a good use of the taxpayer dollars when we have to spend so much in interest in fees," Weber said.

Supporters said the bonds are critical to the city's success. Williams said it is a "basic" bond package would benefit all of Arlington.

"The main goal is to continue to improve our infrastructure, try to keep up with the increase in traffic and demands that we have here on our city, so that we can continue the momentum we are enjoying here in Arlington," he said.

Voters will see the package spelled out in five different propositions.

Arlington's last bond election was in 2003.

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