Travis County $185 million bond Nov. election to address roads, safety

Commissioners debated the need for a groundwater conservation district in Southwest Travis County at a meeting on Feb. 20.

Commissioners debated the need for a groundwater conservation district in Southwest Travis County at a meeting on Feb. 20.

Commissioners OK $185M Travis County bond for Nov. to address roads, safetyTravis County commissioners called a $185 million bond election for Nov. 7 that focuses on road safety and park projects.


On. Aug 15, Precinct 1 Commissioner Jeff Travillion said the bond aims to fund “safe roads to school, evacuation roads, low water crossings—places where people have been killed.


“This is a health and safety bond,” he said.


County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said Travis County tries to bring bonds before voters on a regular basis­—as opposed to large bonds spaced out timewise­—to smooth out the tax burden for the taxpayer, she said.


The bond will be in addition to other improvements totaling $94,955,309, including management fees, the court approved during an Aug. 8 meeting but do not require voter approval.


The combined annual tax bill impact of these measures tallies $36.34 annually for the average Travis County homestead valued at $305,173 for fiscal year 2018.


The bond will be funded over five years, and taxpayers will see the bond reflected in their bills beginning in fiscal year 2019.


The Travis County Citizens Bond Advisory Committee, tasked with determining potential projects for the bond, addressed the safety needs of Travis County’s unincorporated areas that are not within any city's limits, whittling a project list originally estimated at $1.1 billion down to $144 million, advisory committee Chairman Ron Wattinger said. The committee acknowledged Precinct 4, in the southeastern portion of the county, has been historically underserved with respect to infrastructure investment and gave it the lion’s share of the proposed bond funding, he said.


“There is a large investment on the eastern side of the county with respect to transportation projects,” Vice Chairman John Langmore said. “I think [the funding allocation to Precinct 4] was based on what people of eastern Travis County had to say. We also toured eastern Travis County extensively and saw great needs that exist out there and felt that it was time to make some changes that maybe should have been made a while back.”


Most of the projects will “happen east of I-35,” Eckhardt said, adding that she hopes to duplicate the process used to arrive at the approved 2017 bond package again in four years.


In November, taxpayers will vote not only on the county bond but also on possible school district bond proposals that may increase the tax burden of some of its residents, including a proposed Austin ISD $1.05 billion bond and a Leander ISD proposed $454 million bond. Cedar Park is also considering a city charter amendment election in November.


Luz Moreno-Lozano contributed to this article.

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