|Well, we’ve passed the first big hurdle in getting funding for North Lamar/Burnet on the bond package for 2012. I know what we’re supposed to do now, post a short spin piece here and then exhort all our fellow North Austinites to go out and vote.
But as the editor of the North Austin Community Newsletter, I believe North Austinites are intelligent and prefer to think for themselves. So I going to make this long (and probably a bit boring), and I am going to throw in some extra info and a few questions here.
Ready? Here is where we’re at:
The four Bond Election Advisory Task Force committees have made their initial recommendations for a bond package to be placed on the November ballot. The committees narrowed down the list of potential projects and programs for bond funding from over $1.49 billion (requested by staff and for additional community projects) down to $659 million. This amount has to be whittled down to somewhere between 300 and 500 million dollars.
The list of recommendations includes $110 million for affordable housing, $117 million to build and renovate city facilities, $178 million for parks and open-space projects and $253 million for transportation projects, such as road improvements and sidewalks.
Missing from the list is money for a new aquatics facility that the YMCA wants to build in partnership with the city, on city parkland along West Cesar Chavez Street. Another big-ticket item that didn’t make the cut is $78 million to build a new Austin police headquarters.
…The list does include other Police Department projects, including a hangar for police helicopters, a facility for mounted patrol units, a facility for park patrols and a new Northwest Austin police substation, as well as expansion of a 911 dispatch center.
Other projects on the list include: renovations to the Cepeda, Milwood, Will Hampton, Windsor Park and Yarborough branch libraries; new fire stations in the Loop 360 and Onion Creek areas; $2.3 million for renovations to the Barton Springs Pool bathhouse; $57 million to buy parcels of land to preserve as open space and help protect Austin’s water quality; improvements to neighborhood parks; and improvements to Interstate 35, MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1), Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360), North Lamar/Burnet, Riverside Drive and East Sixth Street.
The committee is still weighing whether to recommend money for other projects suggested by residents and not city departments, including expanding the film production facility Austin Studios, building an Austin planetarium, and the Violet Crown Trail, a proposed 30-mile regional public trail system that would run from Zilker Park to Hays County.
City budget staff members have said that Austin could pay for $385 million in bond projects without having to raise taxes.
It could pay for $500 million in bond projects if it raised the tax rate by one cent per $100 of property value, and $625 million in projects if it raised the rate by two cents per $100 of property value.
With a one-cent increase, a $200,000 home would pay $60 more in city taxes by 2016, according to an analysis by city budget staffers. With a two-cent increase, the same home would pay an extra $83 by 2016, they said.
The bond committee hasn’t decided how big a bond package it will recommend or whether it will present the City Council with a few different options. The council hasn’t given the committee a target dollar amount. The City Council will decide by August which projects to include in a November bond election. Officials have said that the city would probably pay for about half of what might be an initial cost of $400 million or more.
Let’s break this down:
1) for those who want it the entire list of recommendations is available here:
2) The biggest things for North Austin on this bond package is a new police substation and funding for the North Lamar/Burnet Study.
I have not seen the number confirmed anywhere, but I’ve been hearing that police response times in North Austin are up to 7.5 minutes. The recommended national average is 5 minutes. A new substation would improve response times and help APD keep up with the growth we are seeing in our area.
North Lamar and Burnet serve 78758, 78753, 78757, and 78759. Per 2010 Census, that is 150,000 Austinites using these two roads. The North Lamar/Study shows we had 770 accidents on North Lamar and 440 accidents on Burnet in the past 2 years. So, 20% of Austinites are being serviced by two roads that are failing so badly there are 600 accidents a year.
Here is the study:
Don’t forget that there is several other good reasons to fix these roads. Capital Metro listed their 6 routes with the highest riderships. 3 of those routes tie into North Lamar and Burnet:
There was a 2009 Pedestrian study of North Lamar, showing the street is very dangerous:
According to a news article: “the city has identified it (North Lamar) as probably “the riskiest stretch for all pedestrians in Austin.”
3. I want to ask for you to think about three other things that’ve been recommended on this bond package:
a) There is a community center/health clinic for Montopolis on this bond package. I bring this up because we’ve often stated that North Austin has been ignored and underserved, and I believe its hypocritical for us to not to speak up for Montopolis. Montopolis is a neighborhood that been up against the same indifference down at City Hall for years, and this building is desperately needed by that community.
b) 110 million dollars seems like a lot to spend on affordable housing, but this will increase home ownership, and support programs that will provide a safety net for families struggling to make ends meet.
Austin is quickly becoming unaffordable and recent studies prove that:
c) Austin Studios is requesting nine million dollars – and I would like to ask those reading this to consider supporting Austin Studio’s request. The truth is the film industry in Austin has done a lousy job of getting out the word of how much money it brings into Austin, but that doesn’t make that money any less necessary to diversifying Austin’s economic future. We’ve said it before, and we will say it again – the City needs to quit putting all its eggs in the downtown basket. Here’s an article that covers this in more detail:
4. We still need people to speak up for North Austin on May 14th!
The last two meetings are May 10th, 6pm at City Hall and May 14th, 6pm at Town Lake Center:
link to meetings:
Citizen Communications will not be offered on May 10th, but will be offered May 14th. If you can drive down and speak, please send an email to [email protected]
5. Finally,here’s the part where we exhort you to vote. There will be 7 people sitting in a room in August deciding what projects should be on the final bond package. FOUR of those people, The mayor and three council members, will be there because of how YOU decide to vote in this election.
Please take the time to vote, and please talk to your neighbors and get them to vote!
Early Voting is April 30th-May 8th! Voting is May 12th.
We have a list of voting places here:
There is also voter’s guide at League of Women’s Voters here: