The Petition against the $20,750,000 Certificate of Obligation (CO) for the City of Rockport appears to have pushed this funding request to a May election, not a November election. County Commissioners got in front of the petition by the citizens and voted 5-0 during a special meeting Aug. 13 to change their request to a General Obligation Bond and placed it line item on the November ballot.
Part of the City CO was $650,000 to purchase Key Allegro Bridge easements. Now that important project seems to have been put on hold until a May decision. The fallout from TxDOT on this delay is not known at this time. There has also been a hold out from a property owner in getting these easements acquired before now. The community desperately needs to get this bridge fixed for public safety; it has been three years since Harvey took its toll on that bridge. Another delay only continues a public safety risk for the community.
I was well aware of this when a group of volunteers and myself decided to take the last week available to us by law to get a petition done before the public hearing of the City Council on Aug. 18 to approve the $20,750,000 CO. We started drafting the petition on the City CO Aug. 12. I emailed Mayor Rios and my City Councilman that evening and advised them we would indeed do the petition and have it completed before the legal deadline. I also advised them the deadline to get this on the November ballot was Aug. 17 and they still had time to call a special meeting for Aug. 17 like the county did last week, and change their CO to a General Obligation Bond, and have their requests put line item on the November ballot for public approval.
Michelle from the elections office told County Commissioners Aug. 10 that indeed if they met on Aug. 17 early in the day she could still get it on the Nov. ballot by the end of that day. Short notice, yes. Possible, yes. The Mayor had all day Thursday and half a day Friday to call for the special meeting. I have 98 text messages between my City Councilperson and myself on Thursday and Friday urging and begging him to persuade Mayor Rios to get this done. It was not.
We have to live in the situation we are facing today. The citizens signed the petition to exercise their rights and have a say on a large new public debt that is raising taxes. They did it in the timeframe allowed them by law. It is unfortunate we will not be able to vote on this in November, it was possible. Please do not blame the citizens exercising their rights, the petition organizers, or myself for this possible public safety hazard created by this delay and other projects listed on the City’s CO being pushed back to the May 2021 election.
You can ask Mayor Rios why he failed to act to make that happen.