WF city leaders focus on moving forward after six bond propositions fail

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Wichita Falls city leaders are working to figure out what's next after six of the seven bond propositions failed in Saturday's municipal election.

Proposition C for street improvements passed, but city leaders were hoping for more.

$17.3 million will be spent to widen Taft Boulevard, extend Maplewood, and improve more streets.

But now the city now has to figure out how to pay for improvements to downtown, Lake Wichita, the parks, and their administrative buildings.

"It was a little bit too ambitious trying to do all those at once," head of the Midwestern State University Political Science Department, Dr. Steve Garrison said. "I might have broken them down into the infrastructure, the administrative, and maybe the quality of life."

City leaders and political experts believe there are many reasons why a majority of the propositions failed.

"Governments are having to do more to convince people that it's worth investing in government-led projects," Dr. Garrison said.

"We got the pulse of the community and how much debt appetite they have," Mayor, Stephen Santellana said. "And this $131 million may be more than they would like to see right now. Maybe we'll bring smaller packages in the future."

But Mayor Santellana has shifted his attention to what needs to be done next.

"This is not something that's going to just snuff out our flame," he said. "This was going to be pouring gasoline on our flame. But if that didn't happen then we were just going to proceed exactly like we were before. So many great things have been happening in Wichita Falls."

Mayor Santellana said the city is still in the same place they were.

"Six months ago we were still pressing forward with a better downtown and a better Wichita Falls," he said. "We're going to wake up tomorrow and do the exact same thing."

He said they'll look at all their options on how to get some of the projects done, including possible future bond proposals, raises in taxes, and re-prioritization of money.

"Maybe the plans could be different or maybe the amount of money they're asking for could be different," Dr. Garrison said. "There are other sources of money. There's private money and federal grants.

"That's what we get elected to do. To set that roadmap and push forward in regards to that plan," Mayor Santellana said. "Hopefully the citizens catch on to what we see in the future of Wichita Falls and downtown Wichita Falls."

Dr. Garrison believes the fact the city's only option was to raise property taxes really hurt them.

He thinks if there could have also been a raise on sales tax, they would have had a much higher chance of passing more propositions.

He also believes Proposition D for a new municipal complex probably prevented some other propositions from passing.

Mayor Santellana said the city still needs some things that will energize the community, attract millennials, and address quality of life.

He said that remains a top priority, but added citizens will have to get on board to fulfill those goals.

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