OK, the 2012 bond package is starting to get really confusing, so I'll try to break it down. There was a group of citizens who looked at the City's wish list and made two recommendations:
*A full project list for $400 million dollar bond package ($60 more in taxes a year).
*A full project list for 575 million dollar bond package ($86 more in taxes a year).
City Council listened to their suggestions and instead, decided they wanted to consider a $385 million bond package by the City Manager ($38 dollars more in taxes yearly) .
Then Austin Neighborhood Council piped up, and suggested that a $457 million dollar bond package is still doable under the $60 more a year in taxes scenario.
So we have four plans proposed: $400 million, $575 million, $385 million, and $457 million and the deadline for City Council to decide on any plan is August 2nd.
With me so far?
OK, first, links to all the numbers for these plans are available for people to peruse here:
Now, as the editor of NACN, I am furious - and I think you should be, too. I believe the worst plan is the City's $385 million. They didn't trim the package; they mostly chopped neighborhood and much needed project, while funneling the monies back to - yep, you guessed it, downtown.
Let's take a look at some of the shuffling:
An extra million goes to the downtown parks, Waterloo and Sir Swante Palm. On the other hand, North Lamar and Burnet loses a million dollars. Remember, North Lamar and Burnet serve 120,000 Austinites per 2010 Census. That's 20% of Austin, and these roads also serve 3 of our 6 bus routes with the highest ridership. The North Lamar/Study shows we had 770 accidents on North Lamar and 440 accidents on Burnet in the past 2 years. Downtown parks versus human lives. Nice to see where City Council's priorities lay.
(fact check me, the links are at the bottom of this page: http://www.lovenorthaustin.com/2012-bond-package.html)
They also want to fork out another $3 million to project '2.001 Design of New Projects', which will 'improve' Congress and South Lamar, while Austin Studios gets nothing. So, lets try to follow the logic. City Council says the budget is tight and they 'have' to spend money on downtown for revenue', but now they are refusing to help an organization which has the potential to bring in millions of dollars of revenue, Why is F1 and certain hotel chains so special, but a local organization getting the cold shoulder?
(fact check me, the blog post is here: http://www.slackerwood.com/node/2908)
There's other things that need to be explained - like why are they stealing from neighborhood projects to fund urban rail? What is the rationale behind the whopping 8 million dollar increase for the substation and the court house? But, I don't want you to take my word for it - so here is the differences in the projects. Here is the spreadsheet I've created so you can see the numbers yourself:
Are you mad, yet? I certainly hope so. It's the old shell game - and it's your hard earned money on the table. Oh, and if you do the math, there's also an extra $52,000 in the $385 million bond package that is unaccounted for.
(fact check me, all numbers came from here: http://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Capital_Planning/Bond_Development/Final_Recommendations_Report/Tab_2_Summary_of_recommendations.pdf)
Personally, I think ANC's suggestion for $457 million dollar package does the best job to meet the broadest range of needs in the city. The ANC plan takes the $400 million dollar bond package and adds back in monies to:
*complete the East 12th street project
*funds some important park projects
*bring funding back up for affordability projects
*bring spending from $16 million back up to $27 million for North Lamar/Burnet.
Steve Aleman, president of ANC, did his homework to create a fair plan and one could be covered under the same 1 cent rate hike as the $400 million dollar bond package. ( fact check me: http://www.ancweb.org/docs/resolutions/Rollout_06272012_BondElection.pdf)
And since I am on my soapbox, I would like to address those who keep saying that sidewalks and bike lanes are 'luxury items' that we should not include in this bond package. We cannot build roads and expand current roads fast enough to keep up with our population growth. That means we need to do something novel - reduce our car trips per person.
A while back, Austin bucked the trend and decided buying local was going to be part of our city's culture. Because of that, we have a healthier economy and a lot more diversity and small businesses than you see in most cities our size. Part of fixing our traffic woes is to take a collective breath and say, "Love Austin - put your butt on a bike, or your feet on concrete.'
Now having given you my two cents worth, I want to close by saying it does NOT matter in the least what I believe - it only matters what YOU want. Please take our survey here:
The bond package with the most votes will be the one NACN will be asking City Council to vote for at the August 2nd meeting. And, please, could you help us spread the link?
Mayor Leffingwell, 512-974-2250, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Riley, 512-974-2260, email@example.com
Mike Martinez, 512-974-2264, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheryl Cole, 512-974-2266, email@example.com
Bill Spellman, 512-974-2256, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathie Tovo, Kathie.email@example.com
Laura Morrison, firstname.lastname@example.org
Marc Ott, 512-974-2200, City Manager, email@example.com
How to Contact the Bond Committee:
Social Media – Twitter (#ATXBD) & Facebook
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Hotline (Voicemail & Text) – (512) 539-0060
Centralized Website: www.AustinTexas.gov/BondDevelopment