First of Final Four Bond Election Task Force Listening Sessions Tonight
Members working with $640 million framework
By Sarah Marloff,
10:00AM, Tue. Jan. 9, 2018
The Bond Election Advisory Task Force is holding an additional four public listening sessions over the next 10 days. Formed by the City Council in 2016 to develop a potential bond package for November’s general election, the task force is expected to put forward its recommendation in March, according to a memo sent out on Jan. 4 by Deputy Chief Financial Officer Ed Van Eenoo.
Over the next five years, city staff plan to use bonds to address flooding, affordable housing, mobility, parks, libraries, and existing infrastructure, totaling upwards of $3 billion in funding. Last June, as a starting point, staff proposed a 2018 bond package of $640 million, split into five distinct areas:
• Reinvestment in Facilities & Assets: $240 million
• Transportation Infrastructure: $190 million
• Affordable Housing: $85 million
• Stormwater: $75 million
• Parkland & Open Space: $50 million
Van Eenoo noted several key considerations: prior bond program investments, department priorities, current remaining bond authority, and project delivery capacity over a five-to-six-year time frame (“typical” for a bond program, he said).
The task force’s second goal is to determine if and how much Austinites are willing to invest in those expenses. Van Eenoo wrote that the group has held 10 full task force meetings and more than 50 working groups – all of which were open to the public. A city notice issued Jan. 8 reports that BEATF heard from more than 1,000 people through a variety of channels late last year.
According to Van Eenoo, current feedback shows support for increased funding to Reinvestment in Facilities, Affordable Housing, and Stormwater. (Chronicle publisher Nick Barbaro seconded the belief last week that $85 million for affordable housing may be too low.) Findings also show that participants support “reduced funding” for Transportation Infrastructure, and 58% of the 900 survey responses are comfortable with a tax rate increase “if needed, to achieve the desired priorities through a bond package.”
Agree or disagree? There’s still time to add your voice. In fact, the task force extended their meeting schedule by several months to solicit additional public feedback before finalizing their Council recommendation. The group will meet again on Feb. 8, time and location still TBD. In the meantime, there are four public listening sessions happening around town over the next two weeks (see dates and locations below). Residents are encouraged to speak; interested individuals will be given three minutes to share their feedback. To request a Spanish language interpreter, call 512/974-1380 no later than 24 hours before the scheduled meeting.
• Tuesday, Jan. 9, 6:30-8pm, Little Walnut Creek Library, 835 W. Rundberg
• Thursday, Jan. 11, 6:30-8pm, Yarborough Library, 2200 Hancock
• Wednesday, Jan. 17, 6:30-8pm, Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex, 1156 Hargrave
• Thursday, Jan. 18, 6:30-8pm, ACC South Campus, 1820 W. Stassney