Candidates are not the only items on the ballot today in Travis County. Austin voters are asked to consider 11 propositions that would have direct implications for city residents.
Although bond propositions rarely receive the media attention of individual candidates, Maya Patel, interim president of TX Votes, considers educating voters about them to be a top priority.
“I always like to say the local elections are what’s going to affect your life the most,” chemistry junior Patel said. “If you ever complain about traffic in Austin, or the bus system, or you enjoy using Zilker Park — everything you enjoy about Austin or dislike about Austin, those are the local issues that are being voted on in bond propositions.”
The first seven propositions concern funding various projects with taxpayer money, and if all pass, the total expense for the City will be $925 million. Austin Mayor Steve Adler has endorsed all seven.
Proposition A is the most expensive bond voters will be asked to consider, with a price tag of $250 million dedicated to affordable housing, which is housing set aside for families under certain income levels. With Proposition B, the City looks to make major upgrades to Austin’s libraries and replace the Dougherty Arts Center. Both Proposition C and Proposition D plan to tackle environmental issues.
The least expensive, Proposition E, is set aside for the construction of a “new neighborhood public health and human services” building in Dove Springs. Propositions F and G delegate funds for public safety and transportation infrastructure.
Assuming all seven bond proposals are approved by Austin voters, the $925 million bill would be paid for by a five-dollar increase in monthly taxes for most homeowners.
Both propositions H and I suggest minor amendments to Austin’s city charter, a document that acts as the blueprint for how the city should operate. The former requests changing the process for appointing members to the City’s Planning Commission. Proposition I suggests having the city charter reviewed for spelling and grammar mistakes.
The final two propositions have attracted some controversy and opposition from prominent City officials.
Proposition J ended up on the ballot after enough signatures were successfully collected by Austin citizens. It advocates for a waiting period of up to three years and voter approval before a rewrite to the City’s land development code can be passed. Proponents argue that in the aftermath of CodeNEXT, a failed land development code rewrite, Austin residents should have a voice in the policymaking process going forward. Opponents, such as Adler ,said the waiting period and city-wide vote would slow down the process too much in a fast-growing city that requires immediate solutions.
“Proposition J would delay us in being able to make the critical and comprehensive changes that we need to meet our greatest challenges,” Adler said in a promotional video for anti-proposition J group Don’t Trump Austin.
Proposition K, another citizen-led ballot initiative, asks the City to hire an external group to conduct an efficiency study of its finances. The political action committee that originally advocated for it, Citizens for an Accountable Austin, was funded by unknown sources, which is the root of this proposition’s controversy.