Austin City Council members spent their morning going line by line through the numerous items being considered for inclusion in November’s bond election. And by the end of the meeting, they gave preliminary approval to an outline of the package.
Council members have agreed to stick to a $385 million dollar price tag in order to ensure that taxes will not go up. But they’ve been split on which specific items to include and which template to start from. Two different ones had been suggested – one from the city’s Bond Advisory Task Force (at $400 million) and one from the city manager (at $385 million) – and disagreement over how to proceed resulted in two tie votes yesterday.
This morning, a majority agreed to adopt the city manager’s original proposal but to also include items from the task force proposal. Mayor Lee Leffingwell said that doesn’t mean the task force’s work goes unappreciated.
“We do respect and honor the work that they did but at the same time it’s an advisory group, the decision has to be made by this council,” Leffingwell said. “It does not reflect in any adverse way on the work of the task force. And I publicly thank them for their work today.”
While the council agreed on several amendments – including $5.4 million for the expansion of Austin Studios, $3.5 million for an East 51st Street planning project, and leaving the affordable housing allocation at approximately $77 million, disagreement still persisted.
Council member Laura Morrison pointed to differences between the city manager’s proposed budget and the work of the task force – including changes to allocations for park improvements, open space acquisition and improvements to the North Lamar/Burnet Road corridor – as the reason she could not support the an outline of the bond package, broken up by category, on first reading. Council member Kathie Tovo joined Morrison in voting nay.
The council has to agree on a bond package by August 20th.
Below, the bond spending breakdown by category approved today.
- Transportation and Mobility $ 143,299,000
- Open Space & Watershed Protection $ 30,000,000
- Parks and Recreation $ 77,680,000
- Housing $ 78,300,000
- Public Safety $ 31,079,000
- Health and Human Services $ 11,148,000
- Library & Museum and Cultural Arts Facilities $ 13,442,000
TOTAL $ 384,948,000