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Austin voters in favor of 6 of 7 bond proposals

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 by Charles Boisseau

Austin voters approved all but one of seven city bond proposals Tuesday night. When all is said and done, the funds raised will fund everything from roads and parks to libraries and a new fire station.


Prop. 15, which proposed to raise $78.3 million to build and renovate low-income housing, narrowly came up short. The tally there was 48.7 percent voting “for” and 51.5 voting “against,” according to nearly complete vote totals.


This year’s bond vote comes at a time of a simmering backlash against higher taxes among some residents. Prop. 15’s failure represents the first Austin bond issue to not pass since 2000, when voters narrowly defeated $1.9 billion for a commuter-rail system.


Here’s a rundown of how each of the bond propositions fared with more than 91 percent of the vote tallied:


Proposition 12, $143 million for transportation, bikeways and trails, 55.1 percent for, 44.9 against.


Proposition 13, $30 million for open space, 56.05 percent for, 44.95 percent against.


Proposition 14, $77.7 million for parks and recreation, 59.3 percent for, 40.7 percent against.


Proposition 15, $78.3 million for low-income housing, 48.7 percent for, 51.3 percent against.


Proposition 16, $31.1 million for public safety, 55.3 percent for, 44.7 percent against.


Proposition 17, $11.1 million for health and human services, 59.8 percent for, 40.2 percent against.


Proposition 18, $13.4 million, for cultural arts and libraries, 60.5 percent for, 39.4 percent against.


Voters passed bonds that are earmarked to pay for, among other things, the construction of a new fire station in the Onion Creek area, the design of a new Northwest Austin police substation, the renovation of the Barton Springs Pool bathhouse, the expansion of Austin Studios’ film production facilities at and the continuing expansion of the 30-mile Violet Crown Trail from Zilker Park to Hays County.


Other projects to benefit from the bond funds include the repair or replacement of the Dougherty Arts Center, the upgrade of parks and greenbelts, the renovation of the Cepeda, Milwood, Will Hampton, Windsor Park and Yarborough branch libraries, and the purchase of environmentally sensitive lands.


City officials said the general obligation bonds, which totaled $385 million counting the housing bonds, were not enough to trigger an increase in property taxes. However, they did concede that if the city didn’t issue the bonds city property taxes would have otherwise declined in the years ahead.


Roger Falk with the Travis County Taxpayers Union said the anti-tax group took no formal position on the bonds (unlike its staunch opposition to the tax increase associated with Central Health’s Prop. 1) but were generally against the bonds that he said would pay for deferred maintenance that should come out of the city’s multibillion-dollar annual budget. “You don’t borrow money to do ongoing maintenance,” he said.

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