PLANNING AHEAD: City Manager Doug Enevoldsen pauses to discuss the 2011 Bond Issue.
KELSY LORIN TAYLOR for GTR Newspapers
In 2005 and 2006, Bixby citizens embarked on a grass root, community-driven initiative to identify and prioritize local public infrastructure projects designed to improve area transportation, public safety and quality of life. That effort ultimately culminated in voter approval of, by an 80 percent margin, a City of Bixby General Obligation (G.O.) bond issue to fund a number of those initiatives.
With 95 percent of those projects now successfully completed or underway, City of Bixby officials are exploring placing before local voters in April, 2011, the opportunity to vote on whether or not to approve a subsequent G.O. bond issue, designed to continue the progress and advance several of the community objectives which could not be undertaken in the 2006 package.
“This proposed G.O. bond issue plan would again address important community transportation, public safety and quality of life objectives which citizens in past years made clear they’d like to see accomplished, and it would do so without increasing current tax rates,” says City Manager Doug Enevoldsen.
The timing of this ballot measure is important, he pointed out, inasmuch as historically low interest rates and favorable pricing conditions in the construction industry provide the opportunity for Bixby residents, if willing, to maximize project outcomes for a given dollar of infrastructure investment.
“Financial experts have noted delays in making such additional infrastructure improvements will likely result in smaller overall project goals being accomplished for the same amount of investment, due to anticipated higher interest rates and construction prices in future years.”
“We certainly were able to accomplish a lot of bang for the buck in the 2006 bond issue, and have gained a lot of favorable attention throughout this region for the many improvements made locally. City officials would certainly like the opportunity to continue that progress and pursue community goals, if voters are again so inclined,” Enevoldsen adds.
Enevoldsen says a $10 million bond issue is being considered, exactly half the size of the 2006 package. “This is the amount which financial advisers indicate we can support without increasing existing tax rates locally. While the City of Bixby’s property tax millage is less than that found in most of our neighboring cities, our City Council has been very deliberate to make sure our proposed bond issue does not increase our city millage, and it will not,” he notes.
Of the total $10 million package, $4 million, or 40 percent would be dedicated for street improvements required to address immediate traffic safety and transportation needs. The sum of $1.1 million, or roughly ten percent would be dedicated to improve public safety assets, and $4.9 million, or roughly fifty percent would be allocated to address various quality of life initiatives in the Bixby parks system.
The latter would include adding elements included in the master plan for Bentley Park, such as restrooms for the super playground and splash pad area, a softball quad, and a skate park facility. It would also include improvements at Keas soccer complex and future trail system expansion in the community.
Bixby Mayor Ray Bowen also commented on the proposed community improvement plan, which has been years in the making. “These proposed infrastructure improvement projects are deeply rooted in the excellent citizen-led initiative that took place back in 2005 and 2006, to improve our community, known as the “Make it Happen” committee”, says Mayor Bowen. “A lot of great work and citizen involvement made that the success it was, and we have strongly embraced those recommendations in formulating this proposed package. We have also sought and received valuable input during the last few months from our school superintendent, area chamber of commerce officials, user groups, and many citizens.”
Noting that Bixby has been one of the fastest growing cities in the state in recent years, City officials say that one of the primary reasons for that growth, behind the excellent Bixby school system, is the attractive quality of life and safe conditions they find here. “Our City Council members frequently hear from their constituents and businesses, that as Bixby continues to attract new residents, it is vital to our community’s success that we continue to invest in basic infrastructure, public safety, and quality of life projects our families and their kids can enjoy for generations to come,” Bowen adds.
Additional details and information are available at www.bixby.com.