City of Austin staff presented six bond packages ranging from $200 million to $575 million to City Council on June 26, one of which may end up being voted upon by constituents in November.
Although the packages—composed of projects to improve roads, buildings and city programs, among others—varied in size, they for the most part allocated a proportionate amount of money to the four project categories identified by city staff: affordable housing, city facilities, parks and open space, and transportation.
Affordable housing was given 15 percent to 19 percent of the overall funds, city facilities 17 percent to 20 percent, parks and open space 26 percent to 28 percent and transportation 35 percent to 40 percent.
The packages presented to City Council were:
- $575 million, the recommended package of the Bond Election Advisory Task Force, a 15-member citizen group appointed by City Council members;
- $400 million, a smaller package compiled by the task force;
- $400 million, compiled by the city’s Capital Planning Office, a new office created to manage the city’s capital needs;
- $385 million, recommended by City Manager Marc Ott;
- $300 million, compiled by the Capital Planning Office;
- and $200 million, also compiled by the Capital Planning Office.
The proposed packages were whittled down from a $1.5 billion list of citywide needs presented to the task force in February.
According to the city’s Capital Planning Office, Austin has the capacity to take on up to $725 million of debt; however, a bond issuance of that size would result in an additional $105 per year in property taxes by 2016 for the typical homeowner. A $625 million bond issuance would lead to an additional $83 per year during the same time period, and a $500 million issuance would mean a $60 increase. An issuance of up to $385 million would not change the current tax rate.
Ott, as well as Mayor Lee Leffingwell, said they would not support a package that led to a tax increase for residents.
The city typically asks voters to approve a bond issuance every six years or so to fund citywide improvement projects to infrastructure, facilities and parks, among others. The last comprehensive bond package was approved in 2006.
City Council is scheduled to take the bond packages up again at its Aug. 7 work session, and council will hold a public hearing on the matter Aug. 2. In the meantime, comments can be sent to email@example.com or by calling 539-0060.
Council has until Aug. 16 to decide whether to call the bond election.