DALLAS — Travis County, Texas, commissioners Tuesday set a Nov. 8 election for a two-part request for $214.9 million of general obligation bonds.
The proposal includes $132.8 million of road, bridge, drainage, and bicycle projects and $82.1 million of park projects and open-space land acquisitions.
The 36 projects on the final list were developed by a citizens bond committee from an original proposal with 120 projects costing an estimated $638 million.
Most of the projects are in unincorporated portions of the county that includes the state capital of Austin.
County budget director Leroy Nellis said the average property owner would see a $5.45 increase in the annual property tax bill if the bonds are approved.
He said the average value of a home in Travis County in 2013 is projected at $280,022.
Commissioners asked the advisory committee to limit the total bond request to $150 million, but Carolyn Vogel, vice chairwoman of the 15-member panel, said the county’s immediate needs were too pressing to recommend a project list of less than $200 million.
The advisory panel proposed projects totaling $205 million, but commissioners removed one project and added two others.
County Judge Sam Biscoe said a proposal for $22.2 million to buy 800 acres along the Pedernales River was incorporated into the list of parks projects rather than being on the ballot as a separate request.
Biscoe said an agreement with landowners will provide for a homestead lifetime estate of 50 acres and grazing rights on the remainder of the property for an annual payment of $5,000 to the county.
Travis County would receive control of 70 riverfront acres unencumbered by either the estate or the grazing rights. The land would be part of a corridor park system along the river.
The river parkland acquisition effort is the largest single project in the bond package.
At a meeting last week, Biscoe said he would not support the $22 million purchase of the land in western Travis County if the homestead estate provision prohibited the county from owning any of the land until the current landowners died. The original proposal was for a 700-acre life estate.
“I’ve had sleepless nights over that,” Biscoe said last week. “The voters ought to be told about the life estate. With it hidden among other projects, they won’t.”
Biscoe said Tuesday he was “satisfied with the option they’ve come up” for the 50-acre life estate.
The bond proposal also includes $16.7 million for acquisition of parkland in eastern Travis County, $13 million for land along Onion Creek, and $3.3 million for bike lanes in the county.
Travis County voters in 2005 approved $121.8 million of GO bonds for roads and parks.
The county’s $631 million of outstanding GO bonds are rated triple-A by Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s.