I disagree with your view that you cannot endorse the $15.3 million bond proposal. The city’s proposal is so simple that, for the life of me, I can’t understand how you cannot endorse it, hence I am led to the conclusion either the city’s message has been muddled or you simply don’t understand the proposal.
From the outset, the city’s proposal has been beset by interference from the BDA (which was simply looking for a source of cash, notwithstanding that this community already owns their water), questions about “lack of meaningful public input,” concerns about spending on projects like our parks and concerns about lack of a “thorough vetting of the proposition and repayment plan.” I don’t doubt that some of these issues are valid, but we have to deal with the realities of the today’s drought. We cannot use this opportunity to bash City Council and in the process “cut our nose to spite our face.” This is why we have elections and why we should be thoughtful in choosing who we elect.
The city’s proposal simply asks the voters to approve a $15.3 bond credit line. The amount is based on a “worst case scenario” of potential costs. That is all! Let’s say we get lots of rain – so much so, that we avoid all these water issues. At that point, none of the $15.3M would have to be spent. It is what the city should be doing in anticipation of needing to find a financial solution to the water issue. There will be plenty of opportunities for further discussion regarding optimal long-term solutions and placating those that want to create task forces and committees to study solutions. All of that comes later. Right now, the city simply wants to ensure that when the best solutions are developed, there is ample money to fund those solutions.
Let me address a couple of more points: The issue of raising ad valorem taxes by 49%. These bonds, when issued, will be general obligation bonds. This means the city must provide collateral for those bonds in the form of ad valorem taxes. It does not mean that the city will necessarily raise taxes by 49% to fund the repayment of the bonds. The city can look to a number of funding sources. In fact, the city has already started that process by raising the rates on commercial users. In Austin, the state Senate has already passed a bill (SB 1041) which will permit the city to use up to half of the local hotel occupancy tax to pay for water infrastructure improvements. This bill is currently before the House Ways and Means Committee and, if passed, will pay for as much as half of the debt service on a $15M bond – this is a huge savings!
Jessy T. Garza