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AISD and Travis County bonds win easy victories

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 by KUT News


Voters resoundingly supported the Austin Independent School District bond, which maintained a wide margin of victory all Tuesday evening. In the end, 72.06 percent voted in favor of the bond.

Austin ISD posed a $1.05 billion bond question to do improvements to all the district’s schools. For some schools, this will mean repairs or upgrades. Part of the bond question included a shakeup of high schools in East Austin, including moving Eastside Memorial High School and the Liberal Arts and Science Academy to new, renovated buildings.

Opponents of the bond question cited issues with equity in AISD schools. They disagreed with how money in the bond was allocated to different parts of the city.

Paul Saldaña, former AISD trustee, said this conversation should continue. One issue the bond tried to address was overcrowding and under-enrollment at different schools. Saldaña said one way to address this issue going forward is a discussion around redrawing boundaries.

“The district and the board never had a formal conversation, nor did we do any work, when I was on the board, at redrawing boundaries and attendance zones,” he said.

Travis County

The two Travis County bonds on the ballot enjoyed a similarly comfortable margin of victory Tuesday. More than 73 percent of voters cast a ballot in favor of both bond packages.

The funding will go toward capital improvements across the county, as well as extending services to parts of eastern Travis County, Manor and Pflugerville.

Before election day, Proposition A was dubbed a “health and safety” bond by Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion. The funds, which total more than $93 million, will go toward expanding and adding roads and improving drainage systems in flood-prone areas, as well as building new bridges, bike lanes and sidewalks.

Many of the projects are located east of Interstate 35 and aim to address long-standing concerns over safety. The biggest-ticket item is an $11.8 million extension of Harold Green Road from State Highway 130 to Austin’s Colony Boulevard.

Proposition B includes more than $91 million in funding for county parks and green space. The most expensive project in the package is the construction of the $23.5 million Bee Creek Sports Complex, which would feature synthetic turf fields, a hike and bike trail, picnic areas and playgrounds.

Proposition B also includes more than $11 million for the county to buy new parkland and $16.6 million for conservation easements, which aim to protect natural resources and environmental features.

Travis County does not plan to issue all of the debt from the 2017 bond package at once. But over the next few years, a resident who owns an average-priced home can expect to pay about $24 more a year in property taxes. The impact will vary depending on home value. Travis County has created an online calculator for residents to estimate the impact on their individual property tax bills.

The county plans to repay the bond debt over the next 20 years with property tax dollars. In 2015, Travis County voters narrowly rejected a $287 million bond referendum that would have funded a new county courthouse.

Complete election results can be found here.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT. Reporting by Syeda Hasan and Claire McInerny. Photo by Qiling Wang for KUT. 

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