Austin
11:45 am
Tue February 21, 2012

The City Task Force Facing a Billion Dollar Decision

It turns out compiling a $1.5 billion wish list of city projects was the easy part.

Last week KUT reported about the massive “needs assessment” City of Austin departments compiled with an eye towards this November’s bond election: millions of dollars for projects including development of the Waller Creek riverwalk downtown, new police and fire stations, and open space acquisition.

But now we know what’s on the table, it’s up to members of the Bond Election Advisory Task Force to whittle those recommendations down to a manageable size. And that work gets started in earnest this week.

Tonight is the first of three meetings to be held this week by separate task force committees. The Transportation/Mobility committee meets at One Texas Center, Room 500, at 6 p.m., where it will hear the Transportation Department’s $275 million pitch.

Tomorrow, the Parks and Open Space committee convenes at One Texas Center to hear the Parks and Recreation Department’s $141 million wish list, and learn about $50 million in proposed parkland acquisition.  

On Thursday, the City Facilities committee will hear the Austin Public Library’s $8 million in needs, in addition to millions in other building services requests.

Work is just getting started on creating a bond package to put before voters this November. The city notes “The Task Force, City staff, and the community will work together over the next several months to identify and review potential projects and programs for future bond funding. In May 2012, the Task Force will provide recommendations for the City Council to consider when developing a potential bond package.”

The Statesman adds the task force must also drastically slash the needs assessment, as it has been asked “to recommend a few different possible packages for the bond election, with projects that total $200 million, $300 million and $400 million.”

The city is also looking for public input on the process. It recently launched an online survey were citizens can rank the six “guiding principles” the city will consider in crafting a bond package. (That’s  Infrastructure, New Initiatives, Mobility, Sustainability, Cost-effectiveness, and a Balanced Approach.)

You can take the survey on the city website, and read the $1.5 billion needs assessment online.