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."


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