Life of a Bond Project
Recently, the Council issued debt for improvements to the water system and the Pantego Economic Development Corporation (PEDC) issued debt for improvements to Bicentennial Park. Staff is now working to shepherd these improvements through to completion. Each project will follow its own timeline but will generally include the following stages, which are not always linear. Sometimes there will be overlap or a need to revisit certain portions of a previous stage.
Cost Estimate and Funding
The initial phase of any project is to estimate the cost of completion and outline a funding plan. When projects are capital improvements designed to last for decades, they are often funded via debt issuances. This prevents placing the total burden of the improvements on current taxpayers and, instead, distributes the debt among all taxpayers who will enjoy the benefits now and in the coming years.
This portion of each project is complete. Cost projections were determined by staff and the Town Engineer after speaking with potential contractors about the various costs of implementing desired improvements. These numbers were used by the Council and PEDC to determine an appropriate level of debt to issue.
The Town issued $12.4m in COs to fund capital improvements to the water and sewer system including the installation of reverse osmosis (RO) filtering systems and the addition of a fifth well site. This debt will be repaid via property tax revenue and increases in utility rates.
The PEDC issued $1.3m in Tax Notes to fund capital improvements to Bicentennial Park including new playground structures and underlay, awnings, and fencing along the creek. This debt will be repaid via existing sales tax revenue and will, therefore, not impact current taxpayers.
Scoping, Bidding, and Procurement
The project design scope outlines goals, deliverables, cost of services, and important deadlines. Staff then advertises the project and accepts bids from qualified firms. Staff evaluates these bids and makes recommendations to the Council and PEDC. These governing bodies then deliberate and select the most qualified firms to complete each project as specified.
The best value option is chosen based, not only on the total cost, but also on proven capabilities, experience with similar projects, their proposed approach to execution (prioritizing those that limit downtime or other impacts to our community), the overall timeline, and the firm's previous performance and customer relations with other entities in our region.
Preliminary Design, Permitting, and Easements
The preliminary design phase typically includes data gathering, the review and comparison of design options, and a review of potential environmental impacts. The information gathered during the preliminary design phase is used to make decisions that will be included in the final design phase. Because we are expanding the water system, any necessary permits from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) or other state agencies will also be obtained.
Finally, during this phase, the Town will identify and obtain any land or easements needed to meet the scope of the project. The Town already owns all properties needed for these projects. Easements could be necessary for the additional well site. However, all other projects are on land already owned and utilized by the Town. Therefore, additional easements are not expected to be required.
Final Construction Plans
Construction plans are currently being finalized based on the outcomes of the preliminary design phase. Staff is meeting regularly with the chosen contractors to finalize these plans. Before construction begins, staff will begin public awareness campaigns (e.g., through social media, Talk of the Town, signage at the construction sites, and updates to the website like this one) and notify any affected property or business owners. And, of course, Town staff provides daily oversight and input throughout the construction process until and including final walkthrough inspections upon completion.
Staff estimates that the projects at Bicentennial Park will be completed by early summer 2024. Work on the playgrounds will begin with the southern portion of the park and then move to the toddler area in the north portion of the park. Fencing replacement will begin following "A Pantego Christmas". The reverse osmosis (RO) systems are expected to be online by August 2025. There is not yet a timeline for the proposed fifth well site, which will also include an RO system.
Once construction is complete, a ribbon-cutting will be planned to celebrate the completion of these projects for the benefit of our community and to recognize the hard work and dedication of staff, contractors, and the Council and PEDC Board.