The Austin City Council split 3 to 3 last week on whether to approve a general obligation bond referendum in November of $385 million or to ask for $400 million instead.

One of the seven City Council members was not present at the agenda session.

The council must decide by Aug. 20 on the size of the bond proposal at the Nov. 6 election.

Austin's property tax rate of 48.11 cents per $100 of assessed value can support $385 million of new GO debt without an increase in the portion now going to debt service.

The city's proposed budget for fiscal 2013 would require a 2.2-cent increase in the property tax for operations.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell and two council members want the $385 million package, which would not require a higher property tax rate for debt service.

Three members said they favor a $400 million plan if the accompanying tax increase can be lessened.

Projects in the final bond package are expected to focus on transportation, parks and library upgrades.

Austin's $1.2 billion of outstanding GOs are rated triple-A by all three rating agencies.

Leffingwell said the GO package should provide $12.5 million for expansion of a movie production facility and build a 30-mile hiking path.

Austin voters approved a seven-part, $568.7 million GO proposal in November 2006.

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