MIDLOTHIAN — The Midlothian City Council took the first steps toward a November bond election during a special session Tuesday evening, as the board unanimously approved to place the issuances of over $90 million in bonds on the upcoming ballot.

The ordinance included giving notice of the election, providing an effective date and enacting provisions of the bond issuance.

“These are the first steps and the beginning of the process for the bond election,” Midlothian City Manager Chris Dick said.

"[...] This process began in January with several meetings of a steering committee made up of 25 citizens," Dick continued. "The committee was formed to establish the needs of the city and set priorities. Nineteen items were identified. Of those, the top eight were selected to be funded by the bond issuance."

According to Dick, the bond election will include four propositions:

Proposition A - The issuance of $9,100,000 Tax Bonds by the City of Midlothian for constructing and equipping fire safety improvements.

Proposition B - The issuance of $22,200,000 Tax Bonds by the City of Midlothian for street and road improvements.

Proposition C - The issuance of $33,000,000 Tax Bonds by the City of Midlothian for constructing and equipping a multi-purpose public safety center.

Proposition D - The issuance of $16,100,000 Tax Bonds by the City of Midlothian for parks and recreation improvements. Information on polling locations, dates

The total of the bond package would be approximately $91,000,000. Early voting begins Oct. 23 and ends Nov. 3. Election Day is Nov. 7.

IN OTHER BUSINESS

In a separate agenda item, the council unanimously approved an agreement with Mayes Media Group to provide public relations, public education strategy and communication services for the special bond election.

“They will provide an education strategy to ensure the facts and key information reach the citizens to better assist them in their voting decision and to better prepare for communication with the citizens and clarification of misinformation,” Dick said.

He noted the media group would also provide training sessions with staff and elected officials. The training will include a three-hour media training class for up to three elected officials, city staff or planning committee members to assist with handling media interviews, media events and crisis communications.

The media group will also communicate the facts of the referendum planning process and the final referendum details, and help identify potential red flags based on community response with Midlothian residents.

Councilman Wayne Sibley questioned if the group would provide supportive information, as he thought the city should remain unbiased.

“It is against the law for the city to show support or oppose any election item," Dick explained. "The city and through Mayes Media can only provide the necessary information to the voters to make their decision."

The cost of the media consultants is $27,500, which does not include additional letters, direct mail, brochures, referendum education website, newspaper ads, informative video, or signage, among other items.

"These projects will require fees, costs and agency commissions in addition to the consulting fee," states the Mayes Media website.

A tentative plan of action with estimated turnkey costs including printing, placement, creative development, filming, editing, and miscellaneous expenses will be provided at a later date.