DALLAS — Austin's 15-member bond advisory committee will meet in early January to begin trimming an initial $1.3 billion project list for a general obligation bond package expected to go to city voters next November.
The task force will recommend a number of ballot proposals for capital improvements, each of them ranging from $200 million to as much as $400 million, according to assistant city manager Roger Goode.
The capital plan includes $232 million for transportation, $198 million for public works, $125 million for a police headquarters and three substations, $156 million for city facilities, $123 million for parks, $114 million for four new fire stations, and $75 million to acquire land for parks and watershed protection.
The capital program outlined to the City Council Dec. 15 does not include bonds for a proposed rail system.
The urban rail bond proposal on the November ballot will be at least $100 million, Goode said.
The two bond proposals are on similar but separate paths, he said, with both expected to be on the multi-part November 2012 ballot.
Councilman Bill Spelman said the bond panel and city officials face a hard task in determining the ultimate cost, size and scope of the two bond proposals.
"We don't have $1.3 billion under a rock," he said. "How do we compare apples and mangoes? How do we balance these needs?"
Goode said Austin must develop a balanced approach acceptable to voters.
"That will be the art of this program," he said. "We have both of those on parallel paths coming together at the end. It'll be an interesting interplay."
Austin's $800 million of outstanding GO debt is rated triple-A by the three major rating agencies.
The bond committee is scheduled to present its debt package recommendations to the City Council in May or June. The council must determine the final ballot proposal and call for the election in August.
If voters approve new debt next November, deputy chief financial officer Greg Canally said the first bonds from the 2012 authorization would go to market in late 2013. He said the bonds would be sold in annual installments over six years.
Canally said that by fiscal 2014 the city will issue the remaining $239 million of authorized but unissued general obligation bonds from elections in 2006 and 2010.