The Austin Transit Partnership board unanimously approved a $312.8 million Project Connect budget that will largely go toward funding the MetroRail Orange and Blue line designs during its Sept. 15 meeting.

As a result of the Austin City Council increasing the property tax rate by 4.7% instead of the typical 3.5%, due to recent disaster declarations, the revenue increased by $1.2 million compared to staff's August proposal.

The budget also added an additional $600,000 in funding for community engagement. That funding will in part go toward a mobile experience center, said Diane Siler, budget director at the Austin Transit Partnership.

“Think of it as a museum on wheels that will be able to educate the public on the technology that goes behind what we're doing and also the process that we've taken to get a light rail built,” Siler said.

More than 50% of the budget will go toward the Orange Line—a 20-mile stretch that would run north to south through downtown—and the Blue Line, which would run from downtown to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Community Impact Newspaper previously reported that 30% of the designs for the two lines are anticipated by summer 2022.

The Austin Transit Partnership, the organization overseeing Project Connect, approved a $42 million allocation within the budget for the anti-displacement fund, which will be transferred to the city of Austin. The city will also be able to use the $23 million allocation from last year, as it has yet to spend those funds. The anti-displacement fund is a $300 million investment to ensure residents and small businesses are not displaced by Project Connect development.

Siler said the board will receive quarterly reports on the budget moving forward. The budget will be posted online Oct. 1 at the beginning of the fiscal year, according to Austin Transit Partnership documents.