Amarillo City officials prioritize goals they want to work on during State of the City address

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 6:03 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - More than 200 people filled Hodgetown Stadium this morning to hear about projects the city wants to work on using funds from the American Rescue Plan and property taxes if voters approve of an increase in November.

“We have unique opportunities because we faced unique challenges of the pandemic and those unique opportunities are bringing funding from the federal government in a way we haven’t seen in decades,” said Ginger Nelson, Mayor of Amarillo.

They plan on recruiting more first responders by increasing wages, and funds will be put into renovating parks and trails.

They also want to use $12 million from the plan to expand broadband access to cover the entire city.

“Areas in most need are going to be North Heights and the northeast part of the city,” said Rich Gagnon, CIO and managing director for the city of Amarillo. “That’s where our biggest gaps are, so that’s where we’re going to start first.”

This will be presented to City Council next Tuesday, and if approved, people can pay an estimated $20 a month for 100 megabit speed helping families in low connection areas and students needing access to online learning.

Mayor Nelson added that this can be a long-term solution to current workforce issues in the area.

“Our local businesses are struggling to hire workers right now, that’s a workforce problem” said Mayor Nelson. “Broadband is a five or ten year solution to solving the workforce problem because a fifth grader who can’t turn in their math homework today is gonna have trouble graduating from high school.”

Another challenge the city is working on outside of the American Rescue Plan funds is expanding and renovating the civic center to increase tourism revenue to then reduce property taxes.

“We know that we’ve got to do something with the civic center so we’re working on finding a way to do it in the least impactful way, for the taxpayers,” said Jared Miller, city manager for the city of Amarillo.

The planning stage for the civic center will be complete at the end of the year.

Funds for increasing public security, street maintenance, and amenities for parks and recreation in Amarillo depend on the property tax rate vote in November.

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