DALLAS — Austin voters will decide in November on $90 million of general obligation bonds devoted to transportation efforts following unanimous action by the City Council.
The ballot measure will not allocate funds to specific efforts. However, the council endorsed some 70 road and street projects Thursday, along with sidewalk and traffic signal improvements, in setting the election for Nov. 2.
City transportation director Robert Spillar said a bond brochure will be developed to assure voters that proceeds will be devoted to a list of transportation projects. The package includes $51.3 million for streets and roads.
Mayor Lee Leffingwell described the proposal as a “local stimulus package” because all the bond-financed construction work would be completed or under way within two years. He said the city could take advantage of lower construction prices if voters approve the bonds.
Leffingwell said 77% of the proceeds could be dedicated quickly, with 23% for project design and preliminary engineering being financed via future bond proposals.
Issuance approval will not require a hike in Austin’s proposed property tax for fiscal 2011 of $4.571 per $1,000 of assessed value, city manager Marc Ott said.
Ott said the $90 million of bonds requested represent about half the city’s bonding capacity with no tax increase.
“What the community will see here is a comprehensive step toward long-term solutions that includes a variety of investments in roads, sidewalks, bike paths, trails, and transit infrastructure,” he said.
Austin has about $790 million of outstanding triple-A GO debt. Voters approved a $567.4 million GO package in November 2006 that included $103.1 million for transportation projects.
Ott and a nine-member citizens bond committee recommended an $84.8 million GO plan in June, including $42.6 million for roads and $42.2 million for sidewalks, bicycle lanes and hiking trails. Projects added in July to the original proposal include $2.3 million for reconfigured highway ramps and $1 million for a state traffic study aimed at reducing congestion on Interstate 35 through the city.
The city said road construction would total $19.5 million, including $10 million to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Projects include a $14.4 million, one-mile extension of the hike-and-bike trail around Lady Bird Lake.
The city will provide $7.4 million initially, and the remaining $7 million for the second phase, provided local foundation can generate $3 million in project contributions.