Posted 11 p.m.

In a tight race, Travis County voters defeated a proposal for $287.3 million in bond funds to build a new civil and family courts complex, or CFCC, in downtown Austin, according to unofficial results released Nov. 3 in a final report from Travis County.

Voting results showed 50.73 percent of voters opposed the courthouse proposal, with more than 37,122 votes counted. According to Travis County tallies, 49.27 percent cast their ballots in support of the proposal, with 36,058 votes. All results are unofficial until canvassed.

The CFCC bond called for funds to build a new facility on Guadalupe Street that would provide services for civil and family law areas, such as adoptions, marriages and divorces, and cases related to domestic violence.

The Travis County Republican Party was among the groups that opposed the bond. TCRP Communications Director Andy Hogue said growth is happening in the suburban areas, and those voters are turning up at the polls in larger numbers.

“This is the beginning of a turnaround. … I’m grateful that people have woken up, and even if it’s a slight majority, at least it’s the beginning of reining in the excessive government,” he said.

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said Nov. 4 that the county’s commissioners court will take a look at all options to figure out the “next best option” from a financial and timing perspective.

“It was a tough loss,” she said. “It was a close race, but we lost. Now we must regroup and figure out how to provide this justice another way. … We’re going to have to have some deep conversations over the next month to figure out what the next step is, but we need to move swiftly because we are in dire need of additional space.”

The Real Estate Council of Austin was among local groups that opposed the bond. As voting results were released Nov. 3, RECA President Ward Tisdale was watching to see if the proposed downtown site could be placed in the hands of the private sector, which he said would be a better use of the site.

“Affordability is a real issue in Austin and that particular parcel could yield millions of dollars in tax revenue, so that’s probably what many of the voters thought about,” he said.

Eckhardt pointed out more election day voters voted in favor of the bond than against it.

Supporters of the bond were optimistic as results rolled in, but some residents were unable to get out and vote during the early voting period as a result of flooding that took place Oct. 30, said Nancy Gray, director of communications for the Austin Bar Association, a professional association for attorneys.

“We did lots of phone calls and did everything we could just to encourage the people that we knew that were supporters to get out and vote. …. We had a great campaign staff who were working hard up until the last minute,” Gray said.

The Travis County Commissioners Court, comprising four commissioners and Eckhardt, unanimously approved an order in August to place the bond election on the Nov. 3 ballot.

If the bond had passed, each county homeowner would have seen an estimated $13.50 property tax increase annually per $100,000 of taxable valuation, according to Belinda Powell, strategic planning manager for the Travis County Planning and Budget Office.

The bond proposition has received support and opposition from various groups. The Travis County Taxpayers Union and Travis County Republican Party both announced their opposition to the bond Oct. 14. Local grass roots urbanist group AURA said Oct. 26 it would support the bond. AURA, which launched in 2013 as Austinites for Urban Rail Action, said the proposed facility would provide safety for victims of domestic violence and be transit-accessible. AURA also supported the proposed downtown location and planned south tower project adjacent to the potential CFCC.

Eckhardt said now that the bond has failed, she does not know what will happen with the south tower project, and the topic will be one the commissioners court must revisit.

The current Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse, which will remain the county’s main courthouse if the bond passes, was built in the 1930s.

Posted 7:20 p.m.

Most Travis County early voters opposed $287.3 million in bond funds to build a new civil and family courts complex, or CFCC, in downtown Austin, according to unofficial results released Nov. 3.

Early voting results showed 52.71 percent of voters opposed the courthouse proposal, with more than 13,946 votes counted. A reported 47.29 percent cast their ballots in support of the proposal, with 12,513 votes. Nov. 3 results have not yet been counted. All results are unofficial until canvassed.

The CFCC bond calls for funds to build a new facility on Guadalupe Street that would provide services for civil and family law areas, such as adoptions, marriages and divorces, and cases related to domestic violence.

The Travis County Commissioners Court, comprising four commissioners and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, unanimously approved an order in August to place the bond election on the Nov. 3 ballot.

If the bond does not pass, the court will need to consider next steps, Eckhardt said.

“There will be a next step, absolutely, because we absolutely need the capacity,” she said. “We will need to look at all of our options because the next step will definitely be a more expensive one. … I firmly believe that what we are proposing is the most efficient and effective [option]. If the voters reject it, I will have to look for the next most effective and efficient.”

If voters approve it, each county homeowner would see an estimated $13.50 property tax increase annually per $100,000 of taxable valuation, according to Belinda Powell, strategic planning manager for the Travis County Planning and Budget Office.

The bond proposition has received support and opposition from various groups. The Travis County Taxpayers Union and Travis County Republican Party both announced their opposition to the bond Oct. 14. Local grass roots urbanist group AURA said Oct. 26 it would support the bond. AURA, which launched in 2013 as Austinites for Urban Rail Action, said the proposed facility would provide safety for victims of domestic violence and be transit-accessible.

AURA also supports the proposed downtown location, which has been a point of contention for groups that recently announced opposition to the bond proposal such as the Real Estate Council of Austin. RECA President Ward Tisdale said the land should be placed in the hands of the private sector.

AURA said the planned south tower project adjacent to the proposed CFCC will result in “the best of both worlds,” bringing a dense private development to the site in addition to the courthouse space. AURA said Austin City Council could also expand the number of blocks in downtown or near downtown entitled for “central business district-style” development.

The current Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse, which will remain the county’s main courthouse if the bond passes, was built in the 1930s.

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