Austin voters set to decide on future of transit system Proposition A: Project Connect

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Light rail, a downtown tunnel and an extended bus system are just some of the features of the $7.1 billion Project Connect, and it’s headed to voters in the form of Proposition A on November’s ballot.

Those with the Downtown Austin Alliance say Project Connect is a “critical” need. Austin Mayor Steve Adler agrees and said, “this is the right project, at the right time – we need transit now.”

However, some downtown Austin business owners feel otherwise.

On Monday, business owners came together for a news conference to express their concerns. Many noting the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on their business and how Proposition A would affect their future. Their biggest worry is a property tax increase.

“I was checking to see how much more we would be paying next year if this goes through and it was $3,000 more,” Shannon Sedgwick of Esther’s Follies explained. “We are not open, not going to be open for a long time, so no money coming in and we’re going to be paying an extra $3,000.”

“I can’t imagine paying those taxes next year at 25% more forever,” Jack Gilmore, the owner of Jack Allen’s Kitchen added.

Adler said those numbers can be misleading.

“The other side is putting out a number that is just wrong in terms of the costs. It’s objectively false. The actual cost is about 78 cents a day for the median homeowner in the city, and for that 78 cents a day we get so much.” he said.

For the average Austin homeowner with a home valued at $325,000, the increase reflects about a 4% increase in your overall property tax bill, which also includes things like county taxes, school district taxes, ESDs, MUDs, etc.

Here is how it would specifically impact the city portion of your property taxes. If voters only approve Proposition A, they would see about a 19.7% increase on their city property tax bill each year. For a person who owns an average Austin home valued at $325,000, that would add $284 a year in new taxes.

When you add Proposition B to the mix, homeowners are now looking at a 24.3% tax hike to the city portion of property taxes, or $349 a year in new taxes on a $325,000 home.

If you combine both props and add the city’s recently budgeted tax increase, then Austin homeowners’ city tax bill would go up 24.9%. For that same $325,000 home, that would be $359 a year in new taxes.

A group made up of community organizations for Proposition A will host its own news conference to share why they believe the community should vote on Proposition A. They say it will create a more well-connected city, bridge the divide between east and west Austin and provide thousands of construction jobs.

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