Dallas council gives initial approval to $1 billion bond package

The Dallas City Council gave initial approval on Wednesday to a $1 billion bond package for voters to approve later this year.

The original bond package was $600 million dollars to repair the city's streets, but as Councilman Rickey Callahan pointed out, the package has now ballooned with less than half going to streets.

Other items on the bond issue presently include a new deck park near the Dallas Zoo and improvements to Fair Park.

“A year ago we were all blood pledging 80-90 percent of all the money would go to streets,” Callahan said. “Streets, streets. Then we said streets and parks. Then streets and the list kept growing longer. Window shopping -- saw nice things we wanted to have.”

Councilman Lee Kleinman warned the large bond package would put a burden on citizens.

“I just want to make sure everyone recognizes the city has $5 billion in debt,” Kleinman said. “We are going to put another billion on top of that.”

Councilman Philip Kingston said the process of continuing to add pet projects to the bond package has been less than transparent.

"It is going to be sour if it has stuff that does not have support from majority of council,” Kingston said.

One notable project is a second deck park that would go over Interstate 35 by the zoo.

Some councilmembers noted that even with money from the bond package, the deck will still need a lot more funding to make it a reality.

"I don't want it to be another project, like so many have complained about in the past where it's someone's dream, it's in there, and we're looking at a slab of concrete and then we can't do anything more and then we're coming back to the council saying this is going to cost us more,” Jennifer Staubach-Gates said.

One big project that does have a lot of support is $50 million to renovate aging Fair Park buildings.

“This is for the entire region state of Texas and United States,” councilman Kevin Felder said. “We want this to be a destination centered in South Dallas Fair Park. $50 million is a small price to pay.”

Kleinman and Kingston both voted against the bond resolution.

The bond package is capped at $1.025 billion dollars. Because the city will take out the debt as old debt is paid off, the bond would not increase property taxes.

If final approval is given by the council later this year, Dallas voters would get to cast ballots on the bond package in November.