Here are the questions Austin voters will decide on the Nov. 5 ballot

A sign outside the George Washington Carver Library in Austin directs voters inside.

A sign outside the George Washington Carver Library in Austin directs voters inside.

Citizens forced a vote on two propositions in the city, while Travis County commissioners brought an item related to hotel tax funding. See the language that appears on the ballot for Austin voters as well as an explanation of what the three questions mean.

Ballot language for city of Austin propositions

The ballot reads:

(Proposition A)

“Shall a city ordinance be adopted that requires that a sale, lease, conveyance, mortgage, or other alienation of City-owned land for any existing or future youth, recreational, or professional sports facility or any existing or future entertainment facility be approved by a supermajority vote of council (9 of 11 members) and also be approved by the voters at an election for which the City must pay; requires that any site development permits and variances related thereto be approved by a supermajority vote of council (9 of 11 members); requires that site development permits and variances related thereto be approved by the voters at an election for which the City must pay, if the sale, lease, conveyance, mortgage, or other alienation of City-owned land for the facility has not already obtained voter approval; requires that the facility post payment and performance bonds and pay ad valorem taxes, or payments equal to the amount of ad valorem taxes; and requires that all information concerning such sale, lease, conveyance, mortgage, or other alienation shall be disclosed to the public.”

(Proposition B)

“Shall an ordinance be adopted that prioritizes the use of Austin’s Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue by continuing the City practice to spend 15% of the Austin Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue on cultural arts and 15% on historic preservation, limiting the City’ s spending to construct, operate, maintain, or promote the Austin Convention Center to 34% of Austin’s Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue, and requiring all remaining Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue to support and enhance Austin’s Cultural Tourism Industry to the potential exclusion of other allowable uses under the Tax code; and requires the City to obtain voter approval and public oversight for convention-center improvement and expansion costing more than $20,000,000.”

What it means:

A pair of citizen petitions forced Austin City Council to call a referendum and place these two propositions on the ballot. The first asks whether any city land deal for sports or entertainment venues should be subject to voter approval. The petition was circulated after the city entered into a lease agreement with the operators of Major League Soccer club Austin FC that allowed the team to build a stadium in North Austin. According to the agreement, the city retains ownership of the land, which means the club will not pay property taxes, and the club will begin rent payments of $550,000 beginning in year six of the deal. Club officials said the proposition will have no bearing on their construction timeline. Work began in September and the stadium is expected to be complete in 2021.

The second item stems from City Council’s decision in May to explore a potential $1.3 billion expansion of the Austin Convention Center. A group opposing the convention center expansion, Unconventional Austin, led the petition drive effort to bring this item to the ballot. The proposition calls for voter approval before the city moves forward with any convention center expansion costing more than $20 million and asks whether the city should overhaul its formula to spend its hotel tax revenue. Currently, the city spends roughly 70% of its hotel revenue on the convention center’s operations. If voters pass this ordinance change, the city will have to cap its convention center-related spending to either 34% of hotel tax revenue or five times the hotel tax revenue produced by the convention center, whichever is greater.

Ballot language for Travis County proposition

The ballot reads:

Authorizing Travis County, Texas to provide for the planning, acquisition, establishment, development, construction, renovation and financing of new and existing facilities of the type described by Section 334.001(4)(A) of the Texas Local Government Code, including a multipurpose arena and adjacent support facilities and any related infrastructure in the area of the Travis County Exposition Center and designated by a resolution of the Commissioners Court of the County adopted on July 30, 2019 (the “Resolution”) as a sports and community venue project within the County in accordance with applicable law (the “Venue Project”), and to impose a new hotel occupancy tax on the occupancy of a room in a hotel located within the County, at a rate not to exceed two percent (2%) of the price paid for such room, and if approved, the maximum hotel occupancy tax rate imposed from all sources in the County would be 17% of the price paid for a room in a hotel, for the purpose of financing the Venue Project, and approving the Resolution.

What it means:

Travis County wants voter approval to collect hotel occupancy tax revenue to fund an expansion of the Travis County Exposition Center. The county wants, and is legally allowed, to finance the expo center project with a 2% venue project tax on hotel bills paid by guests staying within the county. However, the county will not be able to collect any such revenue until at least 2021 because the city of Austin currently collects the venue project tax to pay off its debt for the 2002 expansion of the Austin Convention Center. State law mandates no hotel guest can pay more than a 17% tax. Austin has maxed out that cap, with 11% going to the city and 6% to the state.

By Jack Flagler

Jack is the editor for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. He graduated in 2011 from Boston University and worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Maine, Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in January of 2018.


New dockless vehicles, such as Revel mopeds, have entered the Austin market, in addition to electric scooters, pictured here in West Campus. (Emma Freer/Community Impact Newspaper)
City of Austin expects to see more dockless vehicles used for longer trips in 2020

When electric scooters first arrived in Austin in April 2018, residents and city officials alike raised concerns about regulations, safety and inconvenience.

Austin City Council directed the Austin Police Department to end enforcement of lower-level marijuana possession offenses to furthest extent possible under state law during a Jan. 23 meeting.  (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin police chief doubles down: Cops will continue citing and, in some cases, arresting for pot possession despite City Council direction

City Council decision does not change how police department handles marijuana possession, according to the police chief.

Trudy's North Star, located at 8820 Burnet Road, Austin, was closed as of Friday afternoon, Jan. 24, with a sign on the door saying the restaurant would reopen Monday, Jan. 27. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Trudy's files for bankruptcy, owes employees more than $267,000 in unpaid wages

According to court documents, the Tex-Mex restaurant's financial issues started with its Dripping Springs location, which lost over $1 million per year.

Students at Lee Lewis Campbell Elementary Media and Performing Arts Institute in East Austin point to their classmate holding the red bag, whose artwork is featured on the new electric bus. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)
Capital Metro sets ambitious goal to eventually replace all 423 buses with electric versions

Starting Jan. 26, riders can ride the new electric buses, which will rotate among routes.

(Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Council members divided over hire of outside attorney in property protest rights lawsuit

Some City Council members said taxpayer dollars should not be used to fight taxpayer interests.

While a new story is scheduled to open in South Austin this March, the H-E-B located at 600 W William Cannon Drive, Austin, will close this spring. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
South Austin H-E-B openings, closings and renovations expected in 2020

2020 is slated to be a year of major development for H-E-B in the South Austin area, with projects totaling $200 million.

Central Health is exploring options to provide a cash injection to its employees with minimum wage salaries. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Central Health will explore minimum wage bumps for its employees

The health care district is considering increasing its minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Austin EyeWorks gains new leadership as longtime doctor retires

An Oak Hill optometry office has welcomed a new eye doctor.

Construction on Sunset Valley city facilities including its new police building were completed in the early summer of 2019, but problems persist with its water features. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Sunset Valley to withhold payment until city facility pond issues are resolved

Sunset Valley will withhold between $200,000-$250,000 in payments for its new water quality pond.

A photo of the exterior of Dripping Springs City Hall.
Neighborhood Note: Dripping Springs appoints the city’s first full-time attorney

Dripping Springs City Council has named Laura Mueller city attorney.

An aerial rendering of the schematic design for Dripping Springs ISD's fifth elementary school.
Plans progress on Dripping Springs ISD bond projects, new school construction in 2020

Construction will move forward at several Dripping Springs ISD school sites, both new and existing, this year.

Back to top