County Gets Bonded: Roads and Parks and Jail, Oh My!

Local voters easily pass county bond package

It was like a quiet Christmas in November at Nuevo Leon Tuesday night, as the electronic ballot count steadily confirmed what the early vote had suggested – all three Travis Co. bond proposals were headed to an easy victory. "It's a good night," declared Precinct 2 Commissioner Karen Sonleitner, and Precinct 4's Margaret Gomez echoed her, adding, "This doesn't surprise me."

The numbers supported them. Prop. 1, the road/drainage bonds, dropped a couple of points but held strong at 57.1%, and Prop. 2's park & open space bonds – the subject of most of the prevote buzz and PR campaigns, steamrolled in at 65.7%. Only Prop. 3, a rather moderate $23.5 million headed for improvements and expansions at the Travis Co. jail, looked a little dicey – the early vote was only a three-point spread. In the end, even the jailers and the jailed found a constituency, as the final margin was 10 points.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Ron Davis was also holding forth at the East Sixth Street restaurant, where supporters (heavy on the parks supporters) had gathered to nosh on tamales and margaritas and watch the returns. Davis was especially happy at the outcome because, he said, this group of proposals holds particular promise for his eastern constituents. "Out of the $158 million total [for all three bond proposals], roughly $47 million – in roads, in drainage, in open space – is earmarked for the Eastside, and will open us up for economic development that is necessary and long overdue. We need that infrastructure, for job maintenance and job creation." Davis said he and his staff had worked the neighborhoods hard in support of the bonds, so the response was gratifying. He added that one particular ripple from the successful bond vote may be that Concordia College – still looking for a new home to replace its crowded central city campus – may now decide to relocate on some land it is considering in northeast Travis Co. "They were hoping for a vote that would bring that infrastructure they needed, for mobility. I've heard they're still interested – we'll find out after tonight."

Sonleitner wasn't looking for additional fruits out of parks vote, saying that Commissioners Court was waiting only on the successful vote to authorize some $25 million to underwrite purchase of already identified southwest acreage. A vote and subsequent announcement was already scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, as we went to press. "I'm most excited, because we're ready to pull the trigger on the first park bonds within 24 hours," said Sonleitner. "We've identified the acreage, the amounts, and the cost.

"You can never take anything for granted with an election," she added. "But I'm full of good thoughts tonight."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Travis County bonds, Travis Co., Karen Sonleitner, Margaret Gomez, Ron Davis, Concordia College

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