The future of the civic center bond election during the pandemic

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AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — During Tuesday’s Amarillo City Council meeting, council members discussed what is next for the upcoming civic center bond election.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were discussions to move this election to next May when the future of the economy was not as much of a toss-up. However, the council agreed to keep this $319-million bond election on the November ballot, at least for the time being.

“This is when I’m glad we have a good team because Laura is right, we are in uncharted territory here on changing an election mid-stream. I mean, what doesn’t feel uncertain about all of that,” said Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson.

The biggest update offered during today’s city council meeting was interest rates. The city said interest rates are currently lower than they were back in May when this bond election was originally scheduled for.

Mayor Nelson explained, “They knew we were going to run the numbers but no one knew they would come back this favorable, right there, we almost drop two pennies of the project cost just by doing the interest rate right there.”

To make it cheaper on taxpayers, the council could exclude a new parking garage that is part of the plans, but that comes with its own complications.

Kevin Starbuck, Amarillo’s assistant city manager said, “The parking garage kept us kind of where we were at. In the north lot, we’d gain 600 spots, but we would lose effectively almost that much on the eastside of the civic center with the expansion, so it really was a wash related to the parking.”

The city council did discuss the idea of dropping the parking garage or the Santa Fe depot from the bond, but the council decided to keep them in for now.

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