Downtown Garage: The Rest of the Story

In the last day or so, there has been quite a bit of dialogue about the proposed parking garage on EDC-owned property in Downtown Marble Falls.  While the focus has been squarely on the garage and concerns about losing our small-town feel, there is much more to the overall project than the garage alone.

With the array of amenities that are planned for the Downtown parks, a parking garage will help us consolidate parking rather than paving any more green space than we absolutely must.  The footprint is just over half an acre, versus the multiple acres we would need for surface parking.  Controlled access into and out of a structured garage is much safer than hundreds of parking spaces scattered all over the area.  Lastly, we believe that a strategically-located garage is preferable to asking people to park all over the place and walk several blocks to their destinations in the Texas heat.

 

A schematic model of the hotel and conference center shows the size of the garage in relation to the entire project

Along with the garage, a fairly long list of Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) projects will be the subject of some discussion by the City Council in the coming weeks.  All of these projects were examined during the budget workshops that took place July 12th and 13th, but formal action will be tied to next year’s budget that begins on October 1st.  The CIP project list was broken up into several phases, with Phase 1a being the package proposed for FY 2017-2018.  Included in Phase 1a are:

 

All components of Phase 1 of the Downtown CIP projects are projected to be complete within 5 years

Description Opinion of Cost
Boat Ramp $200,000
Yett Street Parking $235,000
Johnson Park Restroom $225,000
Main Street Restroom $125,000
Lakeside Beach and Restroom $476,100
Lakeside Pavilion Parking $340,000
Lakeside Park Trails $120,000
Wayfinding Signage $200,000
Landscaping, Demo, Utilities, Lighting, Etc. $855,000
Mobilization and Contingency $277,610
Total Phase 1a CIP Projects $3,053,710

This package of projects comes directly from the Parks Master Plan that was adopted earlier this year by the City Council.  The parks plan was based on extensive feedback from the community, and many of the above projects—trails, shade, restrooms, a beach, and improved access to the lake—ranked at the top of multiple survey questions.

Of course, with such an extensive list of projects requiring a substantial sum of money, the question about how all of this gets funded is a natural one.  The answer is that the City will consider issuing bonds to pay for the garage and the Phase 1a projects.  The debt service for the garage would come from a combination of hotel occupancy taxes (HOT) and parking fees, while the CIP debt would be serviced using EDC funds, City general funds, HOT funds, and Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) funds.  In all, the annual debt service would be just under $600,000, with the aforementioned revenue streams covering the payments.

This brings me to the next logical question: what about the impact to the tax rate?  The great news is that all of these projects can be funded even with a slightly lower property tax rate next year.  The staff’s recommendation to the City Council at their meeting on August 1st will be to adopt the effective tax rate of $0.6341, which would be a reduction of $0.0142 (2.2%) from the current rate of $0.6483.  The math works because of additions to the tax roll, strong sales tax growth, and the fact that all but one of the revenue streams to be used to cover the debt service are not tied to City property taxes paid by the general public.  HOT funds, TIRZ funds, and EDC funds are all special-use funds that have specific purposes and limitations dictated by state statutes.

In speaking for the board and staff of the EDC and other members of the City’s leadership team, we are excited about what’s happening in Marble Falls, and especially in the Downtown area.  With the charm and character that come from an array of locally-owned shops and cafes, to upcoming developments including residential projects and a boutique hotel and conference center, to enhanced access to beautiful Lake Marble Falls, we know that we are in the midst of something very special.  The first round of Downtown CIP projects is the culmination of many years of community feedback, planning, and vision.  The structured parking facility is needed to support a Downtown that will become more active and vibrant in the years to come.  And being able to do these things with a reduction to the City property tax rate is a bonus.

11 replies
    • Christian
      Christian says:

      Christine, your question may have already been addressed in the various Facebook threads, but our plan is to help make Walkway of Lights bigger and better than it’s ever been. We will do our best to time construction so that impacts are minimized.

      Reply
  1. Cathy Lemlyn
    Cathy Lemlyn says:

    I am not opposed to this new growth. I do believe number one priority should be the increasing traffic. At some point it is going to literally drive people away. I hate getting out now. Takes forever just to make it across town. I am considering a move in the near future if Marble Falls does not do something about the increasing traffic and danger on the roads. People take big risks trying to turn on it off 281.

    Reply
    • Christian
      Christian says:

      Cathy, the City continues to work with TxDOT to ensure that projects in the city continue to be prioritized. There are short-term, medium-term, and long-term projects on the Transportation Improvement Plan that will all help to alleviate congestion and increase safety.

      Reply
  2. Esmeralda Villalobos
    Esmeralda Villalobos says:

    I believe it’s a Great Plan!! Y’all have my vote. Love the garage parking idea. I know we will all see the benefits in this.

    Reply
  3. Janie
    Janie says:

    Does the EDC foresee family entertainment for our community a Sports Complex??.
    A lot of our community money stays in Austin for our children & grandchildren’s entertainment.
    And I know for a fact Sports Complexes bring in a lot of revenue to cities.

    Reply
    • Christian
      Christian says:

      Thanks for your message, Janie. I think a sports park/facility will happen sometime, but we will likely need a higher rate of population growth within Marble Falls to make it feasible. The other approach would be to enter into a public/private partnership for such a facility so that we can create as much leverage for our public dollars as possible.

      Thanks again,
      Christian

      Reply

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