1) Makes Austin’s automobile traffic worse - Managing automobile traffic is Austin’s most pressing transportation problem and the Bond will make traffic congestion worse.
The projects outlined in the Bond proposal will increase congestion by removing existing turning lanes as well as the center turning lane (a.k.a. “chicken lane”) on many main thoroughfares. Automobile capacity will also be reduced by creating more bus-only lanes on arterial streets during peak traffic times.
The Bond proposal does not address transit options for commuters before they drive into the city.
2) Financially flawed – The real costs of the "GO BIG" Transportation Bond are unclear, the property tax impact on Austinites is unknown, and this bond proposition comes really close to using up all of Austin’s borrowing capacity.
The work described in the Corridor Improvement Projects is a key example of how unclear the Bond’s costs are. City staff stated that just the make-over of the corridors will cost triple the claimed amount: $1.5 billion versus the $482 million in the Bond proposal.
The impact on individual taxpayers is unknown. Property taxes will go up to pay for the Bond, but by how much? Supporters of the Bond state an increase by $5 per month. Opponents of the Bond, an increase will be more than 5 times that amount.
Honestly, I don’t know the tax impact.
The Bond is a poor use of Austin's borrowing power and comes really close to using up all of the borrowing capacity. It's important to make sound fiscal policy decisions for things that justify a property tax increase. I don't believe this Bond is justifiable.
3) A flawed process created a flawed proposal – The "GO BIG" Bond is an “old Austin” proposal. By that I mean the proposal is rooted in the at-large council districts. I was a member of the grassroots coalition which worked to establish 10 geographic council districts. The at-large system was flawed because most of Austin was under-represented when decisions were made. The center-city decided what was best for the entire city.
The "GO BIG" Bond was defined in much the same way, limited input from some council districts, no input from other districts, and a “one size fits all” approach to Austin’s varied neighborhoods.
The voices shaping the Bond were limited. The Bond was designed by a “coalition” of organizations, advocacy groups, and individuals but was not inclusive.
Let me not forget to mention that the definition of the Bond was rushed. The Bond was defined and designed in 6 months. The City’s usual practice is to allow 12 to 18 months before putting a Bond before the voters.
The separate proposals in the Bond are bundled together unnecessarily. The Bond bundles 3 or 4 distinct proposals into a single “all or nothing” decision.
Thank you for listening.