ROCKPORT, Texas — In March 2018, seven months after Hurricane Harvey destroyed Rockport City Hall, the city began making plans to replace it.
Since then, city-hall workers -- and what furniture and other items survived the storm -- have been placed in the Rockport Service Center, where plenty of other city workers already had their offices.
“The facility that we’re looking at building is one of need," said Mayor Patrick Rios. "If you look around (the service center), we’re on top of each other here."
The new city-hall project took a step forward on Aug. 31 when the city council approved tax notes worth $14.7 million to pay for it and another Hurricane Harvey repair job.
The move did not sit well with the man circulating a petition to give Rockport voters the right to decide whether the city should take on debt for a new city hall.
“Taxes are just getting too expensive, and the city is getting in debt,” said resident Andrew Kane said.
Kane gathered enough signatures and certified his petition with the city, but the matter will not appear on the November ballot.
The use of tax notes, as opposed to bonds, allows the city to take on debt to pay for projects that are necessary because of emergencies, such as natural disasters, without being blocked by petitions.
Kane called the move "dishonest."
"(The city is) just not listening to the people," he said. "They want the city hall despite what the population says about it."
Rios said the decision was the right move for the city because of how low interest rates are right now, among other money matters.
“(It was) strictly a financial decision," he said. "We have a fiduciary responsibility to the community. We have to make sure that we get our taxpayers the best deal going."