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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Amarillo City Council Defies Voters, Approves More Debt

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In a 4-1 vote on Tuesday, the Amarillo City Council voted to begin the process of issuing taxpayer-funded debt for a new city hall.

Last November, voters declined to fund the majority of a spending package that included a new city hall project through a bond.

On Tuesday, a majority of council members voted to publish notice of intent to issue $35 million in certificates of obligation to fund the very city hall voters previously rejected.

As previously reported, certificates of obligation are paid off using property tax revenues and are often associated with emergency spending by government entities. However, since state law doesn’t limit their usage to only emergency purposes, local governments frequently use them for luxury spending projects instead of using general obligation bonds—which require voter approval.

Only one council member, Cole Stanley, voted no on Tuesday.

Stanley, who was elected to an open seat on the council in May, had previously spoken about his plans to be a fiscally responsible representative, telling Texas Scorecard last month, “What you will probably see from me will be good ideas that I can bring to the table to hopefully pay down some things instead of paying up some things.”

Despite this vote’s passage, citizens still have time to make their voices heard on the new city hall project. Those who are interested in contacting their elected officials about this item can find their office phone numbers and email addresses here.

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