Passage of record-high $925 million bond in November is Austin's top priority, mayor says

Austin Mayor Steve Adler speaks at an event on Sept. 6 in support of the $925 million bond voters will weigh in on November.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler speaks at an event on Sept. 6 in support of the $925 million bond voters will weigh in on November.

Exactly two months before the November election, advocates, stakeholders and elected officials gathered in front of Austin City Hall on Wednesday to kick off a campaign aimed at gaining public support of a taxpayer-funded $925 million loan to the city to finance several high-priority, high-cost projects.

The loan, officially known as a general obligation bond, will be up for a vote in November, among the dozens of other elections voters will weigh in on this fall.

The proposed bond sets the bar in a couple ways. It is the largest municipal bond proposal in Austin’s history and it includes the single largest public investment in affordable housing the city has seen—$250 million.

"It feels like everything Austin City Council has done, since it switched to a district representation system in 2015, has led up to this upcoming bond vote," District 4 Council Member Greg Casar said at Wednesday’s event.

For him and the rest of City Council, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said Wednesday there is nothing more important between now and November than helping to get the bond passed. The bond, Adler said, opens the door to “real, transformative work” in Austin. Adler said he trusts his dais colleagues will work with constituents to ensure the bond's passage.

On November’s ballot, voters will see the $925 million broken down into seven separate packages: $250 for affordable housing; $160 million for transportation maintenance; $128 million for cultural spaces and libraries; $149 million for parks and recreation; $184 million for flood protection; $16 million for health and human service programs; and $38 million for public safety.

The public awareness campaign for the bond will be run by the Austin Together political action committee. Ted Siff, head of the PAC, said the bond represents an opportunity for everyone to invest in what makes Austin special. Siff said the estimated $5 extra per month the median taxpayer will owe for the next 30 years is “nominal.”

“Give a little, get a lot,” Siff said

With November bringing high-profile elections—including the U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz and Democrat challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke; the Texas governor’s race between Republican incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott and Democrat challenger Lupe Valdez—Siff said Austin Together’s campaign is focused on public awareness of the bond, and not getting the vote out.

The election is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 6.
By Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following two years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Su


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