2012 Bond Election

City Council
8:47 am
Tue August 7, 2012

Council Closer to Setting November Election

Under two proposals reorganizing city government, the council dais would grow from seven to 11 seats.
Wells Dunbar, KUT News

The Austin City Council is focusing on the November election in a work session today.

The council is set to consider putting another option on the ballot for voters who want council members to be elected from geographic districts. The so-called “8-2-1” plan would allow for eight council members from geographic districts. The mayor and two additional council members would be elected at-large.

If approved, the option would be one of two on the November ballot. Under the competing “10-1” plan, which was placed on the ballot by petiotion, only the mayor would be elected at-large. Currently, all council members are elected at-large.

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11:20 am
Fri June 22, 2012

Three Big Questions About an Austin Medical School

A replacement for 'ailing' Brackenridge hospital is pitched as part of a medical school for Austin.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

Last month, hopes for a vote on urban rail were dashed.

Despite years of discussion, preliminary routes, and an estimate of the cost, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell shot down the idea, saying plans lacked “a sufficient level of certainty” to put a proposal before voters in November.

There were political considerations too. Momentum’s building in the long push for a medical school at UT-Austin – and should public funding be required, backers had warned against asking voters to approve tax increases for urban rail and a medical school all at once.   

This week, flyers started appearing in Austin mailboxes, supporting the concept of a local medical school.

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Urban Rail
12:55 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

Interview: Mayor Leffingwell on Call to Postpone Urban Rail Vote

Mayor Leffingwell on the postponement: "We have some breathing room."
Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

Mayor Lee Leffingwell announced on Friday that he opposed putting urban rail funding before voters in 2012 – a move that effectively nixed rail’s funding chances in the November bond election, and raised another round of hand wringing over transportation solutions for Austin. KUT News spoke with Mayor Leffingwell shortly after his announcement.

KUT NEWS: I doubt there was any one variable that lead you to your decision, but what were your reasons?

Lee Leffingwell: It’s a whole bunch of things coming together, but underlying it is, we have not yet answered some of the basic questions. We might have an answer prior to November, but time is running short to get the complete picture in place and to be able to go out and market it. Because you don’t just put this on the ballot and go away and hope for the best. You’ve got to really present it to the public. There’s a full education process that goes on with something like this. You have to go out and explain it to people.

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Bond Election
4:07 pm
Tue May 22, 2012

City Bond Proposals Pared Down Again - This Time, to $400 Million

In black and white: The latest bond proposal reduces spending to $400 million.
Photo by Wells Dunbar for KUT News

The Bond Election Advisory Task Force has continued to refine a potential bond package to send to Austin voters this November.

The latest iteration of the proposals comes in at $400 million. That's down from an initial $1.5 billion department-wide “needs assessment,” then packages valued at $650 million and $575 million. The Austin City Council will eventually choose the projects that make it to voters.

Funds are organized under the following categories: affordable housing, city facilities, community-based projects, parks and open spaces, and transportation and mobility. 

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Bond Election
3:05 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

A Couple Winners (But a Bunch More Losers) in the Austin Bond Proposal

A street construction program was halved in the latest bond spending proposal.
Photo by KUT News

Yesterday, KUT News took a look at what made the cut in the city’s latest proposal for a bond spending package. Today, we look at what took the biggest hits, and the few areas that saw a boost in funding.

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Bond Election
3:08 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

What’s In Austin’s $575 Million Bond Recommendation?

The playgorund at Zilker Park. $20 million in improvements to "metropolitan" parks have been recommended for bond dollars.

Here’s a financial crash diet: going from $1.5 billion to $575 million. And then, down to $400 million.

Those are some of the moves Austin’s Bond Election Advisory Task Force has recently made. A citizen group appointed by the Austin City Council, the group was tasked with paring down an initial $1.5 billion “needs assessment” from the city’s various departments into something it could put to voters this November.

At a meeting Monday, the task force recommended what it feels is a balanced bond package. But because a separate vote on Urban Rail funding might also make it to the ballot – the Transportation department is set to make a recommendation for rail investment this Tuesday, May 29 – the task force is also compiling a smaller, roughly $400 million package to recommend, should rail make it to the voters.

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12:16 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

What’s in the City’s $650 Million Bond Proposal?

New fire engine bays are among the items suggested for funding in a November bond election.
Callie Hernandez for KUT News

A few million dollars here, a few million there, and pretty soon, you’re talking real money.

The Bond Election Advisory Task Force is currently soliciting input on a bond package to send to voters this November. In February, city departments presented lists of projects and programs they would like to see funded. Since then, the committee has narrowed down an initial $1.49 billion of funding requests to just $650 million. (You can view the recommendations here.)

Tonight, May 2nd, and tomorrow, May 3rd, the task force is holding public forums it will use to further narrow its $650 million list. Here’s a look at what’s made the cut so far. 

City Facilities: About $117 million

Big Ticket Items: Fire Department– Fire Maintenance & Breathing Air Shops ($14,852,000)

This nearly $15 million would go towards “relocation of fire department fleet maintenance and breathing air shops from their 2011 E. 51st Street location.”

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2:56 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

Three Arts Projects in Bond Package – For Now

An artist's rendering of the proposed, $30 million Mexic-Arte Museum.
Image courtesy of Fernando Romero

The Mexic-Arte Museum is asking for $10 million in City of Austin bond money to finance the construction and design of a $30 million, six-story building downtown.

Designed by Mexican architect Fernando Romero, architect of the $70 million Soumaya Museum in Mexico City, the new Mexic-Arte Museum is designed to be 54,000 square feet, half of which will be leased as office space, the Austin American-Statesman reported on Monday.

The Statesman notes that in 2000, the museum received $740,000 to buy their current location at 419 Congress Ave. In 2006, the museum received $5 million in voter-approved bonds to design and construct a new facility on the Mexican American Cultural Center campus, and the museum announced that it would sell its existing building. But three years later, the museum canceled those plans and announced it would stay on Congress Avenue. The museum started thinking about building again in 2010, receiving $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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Bond Election
4:43 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

Online Input on Bond Package Ends This Weekend

An online survey of voter priorities in an upcoming bond election is ending this weekend.
Image courtesy austintexas.gov

This weekend's your last chance to take the City of Austin’s online survey seeking input on how money in a possible November bond referendum should be spent.

The city’s Bond Election Advisory Task Force received a list of projects city departments feel should be funded in a bond package. That list was released in February, totaling at a cost of nearly $1.5 billion. The proposed projects are being weighted by need and urgency, and compared against a set of designated values (cost-effectiveness, geographic balance, environmental protection, and more).

There are numerous projects for parks, libraries, community centers, and EMS center improvements. Among the items on the list include $78 million for a new Austin Police Department headquarters, $50 million for I-35 improvements, and $10 million for a Sabine Street “promenade” at Waller Creek.  

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10:28 am
Mon March 26, 2012

'Spend the City's Money' at Bond Workshop Tonight

Several large construction projects are being considered in a city bond package.
Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News

“How would you turn $1.49 billion worth of potential bond projects into a bond package of up to $400 million?”

That’s the question the City of Austin is asking a bond development workshop, tonight at 6:30 p.m.

The city is considering a bond election this November, and KUT News has reported on the $1.5 billion “wish list” serving as a starting point for talks, a needs assessment from city departments outlining different projects. Now the city is in the process of whittling that number down to something it can present to voters.

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11:45 am
Tue February 21, 2012

The City Task Force Facing a Billion Dollar Decision

In addition to the task force's work, the city is looking for online input on the bond development process.
Photo by KUT News

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.

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