By Chris Edwards
IVANHOE – Ivanhoe citizens are set to vote yay or nay on the city’s bond election. If it passes, the $2 million bond will go toward improving the city’s roads.
The bond was on the ballot in May but lost by a narrow margin. Ivanhoe Mayor Cathy Bennett recently held a town hall meeting at the Ivanhoe Civic Center to address concerns surrounding the measure. The meeting, held on Saturday, Oct. 13, was also live-streamed to Youtube. Bennett began the meeting by addressing the question of why the issue was up for election a second time.
She quoted remarks made in a report by the Veridus Group, a firm of economic advisers who assessed the road conditions in Ivanhoe through an economic recovery grant. Veridus personnel stated that the road conditions in Ivanhoe are “comparable to ‘developing countries’,” Bennett said.
She said the roads had pretty much reached the end of their serviceable life and that the deterioration had reached a point where the difference could be noted day to day.
She also noted that mail delivery had been suspended in one area and complaints had been made regarding the wear and tear on school buses. Bennett has also addressed the condition of the roads with Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette as the issue pertains to ambulance service; that the current provider Acadian has encountered issues in getting to Ivanhoe residences given the road conditions.
With the city’s limited budget, the majority of Ivanhoe city council members saw no other alternative than to call for a second bond election with the hope of being able to better inform the citizens of the need and also to consider a new map based on input from the community and seeing a need for evacuation routes in the event of hurricanes or other flood events, Bennett said.
Bennett mentioned that Ivanhoe residents were invited to bring alternative plans to the table, which included acquiring a water system and un-incorporating, with the assumption that the county would take over the maintenance of the streets. “We don’t see where there’s any alternative,” Bennett said. Bennett said the first idea was not feasible, and the second “could not happen; that Ivanhoe would go back to being a private community with virtually no funding.” Precinct 1 Commissioner Martin Nash affirmed this statement.
At the meeting, as well as the most recent city council meeting, Bennett also addressed the issue of trust as to the bond issue. She noted that some opponents have circulated handbills and posted signs with false information, stating that the bond election is for the amount of $2 billion and not the $2 million figure. Bennett acknowledged that trust issues existed across the country with all governing bodies and understood the concern.
She asked for volunteers to serve on an audit committee, which will review the monthly expenditures and also explained that the monies from bonds, by law, must be held in closely audited separate accounts from other municipal expenditures.
Bennett said that detailed information about the bond issue and the proposed road improvements are available through the city’s website, located at cityofivanhoetx.com. Hard copy handouts of the information are also available from city hall and Bennett encouraged anyone with questions to call her at 409-429-6752.