Austin City Council members will deliberate on the creation of a bond package with funding toward climate-related goals during a meeting July 18.

Current situation

Council passed a resolution in February, starting a search for funding opportunities to achieve goals set by city officials related to climate change. This includes a target of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, which has proven difficult to achieve without proper investments, said council member Ryan Alter, who authored the resolution.

The joint sustainability committee—a group that advises council on conservation—recommends the creation of up to a $350 million bond package to fund the various environmental goals.

“What we’ve been doing in the past is creating and passing plans like the Austin Climate Equity Plan with no dedicated budget or dedicated funding plan,” said Rohan Lilauwala, Austin Office of Sustainability Climate Project manager. “That has sort of set us up for failure or, at the very least, disappointment.”

If approved, voters would see the bond package on their ballots no later than the November 2026 election.

Alter said the issue of climate change is pressing and supports a bond on voter’s ballots as early as this November, but city financial staff don’t recommend going for another bond until 2026 with how many projects are still underway.

Council member Mackenzie Kelly voted no on the resolution in February, citing potential burdens on taxpayers.

“I just heard from people yesterday who are concerned about the possibility of more taxes in the form of a bond,” Kelly said Feb. 15. “It's my job and our job as elected officials to not increase the financial burden on those who live in our city.”

In case you missed it

In a memo sent to City Manager T.C. Broadnax on May 24, council members Ryan Alter, Vanessa Fuentes, José Velásquez, Paige Ellis and Alison Alter shared how some of these projects could be funded. Many of these recommendations include insight from the public and the joint sustainability committee.

Also of note

In addition to a bond, another way of funding climate-related projects in Austin may include a “climate fee.”

At a joint sustainability committee meeting June 26, Lilauwala pointed to an example of a similar fee in Portland, Oregon, which funds clean energy projects through a 1% gross receipts tax on large retailers.

In Austin, residents see fees on utility bills, including the clean community fee, water community benefit charge and transportation user fee. One way to implement a climate fee could include adding it onto resident utility bills.

The joint sustainability committee recommends a fee to fund environmental goals. For one to be implemented, council would have to approve it at a future meeting.

What’s next

If the resolution to build a bond package is passed, Broadnax would be directed to create a bond package that addresses climate, infrastructure and public improvements for an election no later than November 2026.

Additionally, a bond election advisory task force would be created to consider projects involved in the package. Other ways to fund climate-related projects would be identified, such as a climate fee.

Council will meet July 18 at Austin City Hall, 301 W. Second St., Austin.

For more information, visit