Travis County voters approve Expo Center proposition

A sign welcomes voters into the Ben Hur Shrine Temple on Rockwood Lane in North Central Austin on Nov. 5. Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper
A sign welcomes voters into the Ben Hur Shrine Temple on Rockwood Lane in North Central Austin on Nov. 5. Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper

A sign welcomes voters into the Ben Hur Shrine Temple on Rockwood Lane in North Central Austin on Nov. 5. Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper

Editor's note: This article has been updated with the most recent tallies.

Travis County will be allowed to collect hotel tax revenue to fund the expansion of the Travis County Exposition Center—and invest significant funding into its growing northeast quadrant—after the Nov. 5 election.

After 72,125 votes were tallied on Election Day and posted on the Travis County Clerk website, 62.38% of voters approved the proposition. Including early voting tallies, 74,770 voters supported it, with 45,089 voting against.

"While this investment is long overdue, I am optimistic about what a revitalized and energized Travis County Exposition Center can bring to East Travis County," Precinct 1 Commissioner Jeff Travillion said in a statement Nov. 5.

Travis County wants, and is legally allowed, to finance the expo center project with a 2% venue project tax on hotel bills paid by guests who stay within the county.


Voter approval is required once a venue project has been approved by the state attorney general.

However, the county will not be able to collect any such revenue until at least 2021 because the city of Austin currently collects the venue project tax to pay off its debt for the 2002 expansion of the Austin Convention Center. The city's debt expires in 2029, but city officials expect the debt will be paid off by 2021.

County leaders sought a commitment from the city to pay off the debt by 2021 at an Aug. 8 meeting, but the city stopped short of an enforceable commitment.

State law mandates no hotel guest can pay more than a 17% tax on their bill. Austin hotels have maxed out that cap, with 11% going to the city and 6% going to the state.

"I look forward to working with the City of Austin to determine how soon it will relinquish two percent of the hotel occupancy tax so that Travis County can make the voter-authorized investment in the Exposition Center," County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said in a statement.

Both the Travis County Democratic and Republican parties supported the proposition, as did Rodeo Austin, which has operated out of the expo center for 30 years.

Results are not final until they are canvassed. The Travis County Commissioners Court is scheduled to order canvassing elections returns at a work session on Nov. 14..


MOST RECENT

Travis County has had 13,864 total confirmed coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic as of July 9. (Community Impact staff)
Travis County tops 700 new COVID-19 cases for second straight day July 9

Travis County has had 13,864 total confirmed coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Effective July 9, hospitals in more than 100 counties across the state must now postpone elective surgeries unrelated to COVID-19. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
MAP: Governor expands restrictions on elective surgeries to more than 100 Texas counties

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expanded the restrictions that initially required only hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties to postpone all non-medically necessary surgeries and procedures that are unrelated to COVID-19.

An employee at Terry Black's Barbecue in Austin works in a mask May 1. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin’s new law: Follow health authority rules or face $2,000 penalty

Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott is set to publish new orders mandating masks and social distancing this week.

In compliance with Gov. Greg Abbott's July 2 executive order, the University Interscholastic League is requiring the use of facial coverings when practical to do so for all summer activity participants, among other guidelines. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
UIL releases guidelines for conducting summer activities during COVID-19 pandemic

The University Interscholastic League released udpated guidelines for schools conducting summer activities such as sports training and marching band practices on July 8.

From left: Dentists Brandon Hedgecock and Max Kerr operate Sleep Better Austin, a practice treating patients with sleep apnea using oral appliance therapy. (Courtesy Sleep Better Austin)
Sleep Better Austin opens new office on West 38th Street

The medical office offering oral appliance therapy for patients with sleep apnea has three other Austin-area locations.

Enchiladas Y Mas is scheduled to open again at the end of July. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Enchiladas Y Mas set to reopen in North Central Austin

Sisters Eva and Carmen Hernandez bought the business from family members Robert and Mary Martinez, the original owners.

Dell Children's Medical Center sleep lab
Dell Children’s Medical Center doubles size of pediatric sleep program

The newly expanded, six-bed sleep lab at Dell Children’s now has the ability to offer diagnostic sleep studies and therapeutic studies for children with potential sleeping disorders.

An orange virus graphic that reads "Today's coronavirus data updates"
Travis County reports 753 new coronavirus cases July 8

The Austin MSA is still hovering near Stage 5 risk with 67 new hospital admissions in the past day.

Education Austin President Ken Zarifis hosted an online press conference with Austin ISD teachers July 8. (Screenshot courtesy Education Austin)
Austin ISD teachers demand keeping classes online for start of school year

Education Austin says that keeping all classes online is in the best interest of district employees, students and families.

Census worker
2020 census: Bureau prepares nonresponse follow-up field operations

For individuals who have not responded to the 2020 census, one of about 500,000 census takers will visit the their household between Aug. 11-Oct. 31.

Capital Metro celebrated its 35th anniversary serving the Austin area July 1. (Courtesy Capital Metro)
Central Austin business anniversaries: Capital Metro celebrates 35 years and more

Local real estate company Urbanspace is also celebrating 20 years in business.