Travis County calls for $185 million bond referendum for November ballot

Commissioners appointed two members to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority's board of directors at a meeting Jan. 30.

Commissioners appointed two members to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority's board of directors at a meeting Jan. 30.

Travis County will move forward with a Nov. 7 bond election following a unanimous vote by its commissioners and Judge Sarah Eckhardt today.

The $185 million bond will address road and park improvements throughout the county, with a vast majority of the projects located east of I-35. That total does not include $94.9 million for locally funded county projects that do not require voter approval. 

Here is a timeline of the events that led to the commissioners' decision:

  • July 18: the Citizen’s Bond Advisory Committee recommended the approval of a $144 million bond referendum that would fund projects to address the county’s transportation, park and roadway issues.

  • July 25:  County staff recommended adding $12.9 million to the bond referendum following a cost review analysis. The updated costs made changes to the 19-mile Gilleland Creek Greenway trail in Pflugerville and added three bicycle safety projects, curving at South Pleasant Valley Road in Southeast Austin and two bridge replacement projects.

  • Aug. 1: County staff suggested an additional $28 million be added to the bond package to encompass eight additional drainage projects and to improve the Northeast Metropolitan Park in Pflugerville.

  • Aug. 8:

    • Commissioners consider three options for the bond election including:

      • Option A: The “basic” package included original recommendations from the Citizens Bond Advisory Committee and was projected at $149.7 million.

      • Option B: Included the original recommendation from the committee but also allocated money toward improvements to the Northeast Metropolitan Park in Pflugerville. The bond package was estimated at $158 million.

      • Option C: Included Option B projects plus eight additional drainage improvements projects. The bond package was estimated at $185 million.

    • Option C was approved and included the additional $94.9 million in locally funded projects that address roadway safety, bridge safety and drainage improvements but do not require voter approval. That figure, originally set at $91.4 million, now includes the design and engineering to widen Pearce Lane and raise it out of the floodplain in Del Valle.

    • If approved, the bond’s tax impact would be $24 per year on the average Travis County home with a valuation of $305,173. An additional $12.34 per year will also increase the tax rate to pay for locally funded projects that do not require voter approval.

    • Commissioners debated whether or not to include the bond on the November or May ballot. The final decision was set for the court's Aug. 15 meeting.

  • Aug. 15: Commissioners vote 4-0, with Commissioner Gerald Daugherty absent, to place the bond on the November ballot. The $185 million bond will join the $1.1 billion Austin ISD bond and the $253 million Lake Travis ISD bond also slated for a November ballot.

"We could not see the benefit of moving the bond to the May ballot," County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said. "Instead, the commissioners found it more compelling for Travis County and [the school districts] to go in November."

Commissioner Brigid Shea, who represents Precinct 2, said the last bond that addressed parks and roads was in 2011 and prior to that was 2006. She felt this bond was necessary to improve those issues throughout the community. Commissioner Jeff Travillion, who represents the upper east side of the county and Pflugerville, shared a similar sentiment, adding the bond was crucial for the public's health and safety.

"These bonds address problems that we see on the ground," Travillion said. "Safe roads to schools, evacuation lanes for people getting out of low water crossings and places where people have been killed. I think when you look at the vast majority of the projects you can identify safety upgrades that are being made across the community."


Total Wine & More has been open for 5 years in Sunset Valley

The Sunset Valley location was the first to open in the Austin area.

COVID-19 hospitalizations also increased to 97 in the Austin metro. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
88 new coronavirus cases in Travis County on June 1 set single-day high

COVID-19 hospitalizations also increased to 97 in the Austin metro.

Director of Elementary Schools Monica Gonzalez said June 1 that the district is looking into training teachers this summer to prepare for partial or full-time virtual learning. (Courtesy Austin ISD)
Austin ISD planning for blended teaching approach for school year beginning Aug. 18

A blended approach would allow the district to switch from in-person learning to virtual learning when needed.

Protesters and Texas Rangers stood face to face during demonstrations at the Texas Capitol on May 31. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
National, state, local officials continue to blame outside agitators for turning protests violent over the weekend

As violence erupted in Austin and cities across the country over the weekend, leaders from all ranks said outside groups usurped the demonstrations and turned them chaotic.

A photo of SH 45 SW
SH 45 SW toll has been open in South Austin for a year

A long-planned toll road connected southwest Travis County and north Hays county clebrates its first anniversary.

Richard Rhodes, the president and CEO of Austin Community College, said June 1 that the district is prioritizing the hiring of a new chief equity, diversity and inclusion officer. (Courtesy Austin Community College)
Austin Community College prioritizing hiring equity officer despite ongoing hiring freeze

The district brought up the hiring during a discussion about protests and demonstrations that have taken place over the past weekend.

Businesses shuttering their doors due to coronavirus restrictions lowered the sales tax revenue collected by cities in May compared to May 2019. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas comptroller reports 13.2% year-over-year state sales tax revenue drop in May

Tax collection revenue fell significantly in several sectors from May 2019 to May 2020, according to the comptroller's office.

Demonstrators gathered at the Texas Capitol on May 31 to protest police brutality. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas officials respond to demonstrations, unrest in wake of George Floyd killing

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a state of disaster in Texas on May 31, while various city officials and law enforcment responded to protests and violence over the weekend.

A group of 16 mayors from municipalities within Travis County have signed a letter to County Judge Sam Biscoe requesting a per capita approach to the issue of COVID-19 relief funding. (Screenshot courtesy Kara King)
Group of 16 Travis County mayors signs letter requesting $23M in county COVID-19 relief funds

City leaders in Travis County, from Bee Cave to manor, have signed a letter to County Judge Sam Biscoe requesting more than $23 million in federal coronavirus relief funds be released to 21 municipalities as soon as possible.

Austin City Hall was one of several downtown buildings to be vandalized during this past weekend's protests. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin leaders, representatives react to weekend protests

Local, state and federal representatives took to social media throughout the weekend to voice their opinions.

Blazier Elementary School students break ground on a new relief campus in Southeast Austin in June 2019. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD accepting names for new Blazier Elementary relief campus through June 5

The new relief campus for Blazier Elementary School will open this August.

Protesters march toward the Texas Capitol. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
PHOTOS: Demonstrators gathered in front of the Texas Capitol as protests against police brutality continued nationwide

Protests against the killings of Goerge Floyd and Michael Ramos took place throughout the weekend in Austin.