LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — Voters will decide May 7 whether to continue Capital Metro services to Leander or whether to end participation in the Central Texas transit authority.
If voters approve Proposition A, meaning transit services continue, then there is no change to the services brought to Leander.
However, if Prop A fails, meaning the partnership ends, then services to Leander will end following the canvassing of votes and Leander will no longer be a Capital Metro member city.
Additionally, the city is expecting to pay $42.3 million in net financial obligations to the transit authority if voters vote against Proposition A, according to estimates from Capital Metro. This will not be paid in a lump sum. Capital Metro will continue receiving its current 1% sales tax from the city until the estimated $42 million is paid. Capital Metro will not calculate the actual cost until the election is complete.
Immediately following the election, limited bus services would be offered to residents after Capital Metro services end through a $520,520 contract. Council members approved the interim transit services contract April 21, which would only go into effect if Prop A fails.
The seven-month agreement with Star Shuttle Inc. would include on-demand pickup and commuter bus services. There would be three buses in the morning and afternoon each that would take riders to Lakeline Station, though Capital Metro has not yet agreed to allow Leander to access the station.
The city and council would seek a long-term service provider after the seven-months contract end.
“We made this clear that our preference is to not have an interruption in service,” Council Member Kathryn Pantalion-Parker said. “I think this is our way to provide that.”
According to the city, contracted services with Capital Metro will not be considered until after the election and the city will not be able to use Leander Station as a pick-up location.
The city and transit authority entered into an interlocal agreement in March to give Leander about $1.9 million in funding for specific transportation projects in CapMetro’s Build Central Texas program. Leander could also receive $7.4 million in 2022 for “transit supportive infrastructure projects.”
“The agency has been engaged with Leander and feels that recent CapMetro board actions demonstrate the value and importance of Leander’s membership in CapMetro and that CapMetro services positively impact the mobility and economic development goals of the city,” spokesperson Tawuan Cole said in a statement.
If Prop A fails, then the city will have an opportunity to recapture the 1% sales tax that Capital Metro currently receives. This is what Proposition B will ask voters.
Proposition B would allow the city’s general fund sales tax to increase from 1% to 2%. This would not be a sales tax increase because it would move the 1% that currently goes to Capital Metro back to the city. However, the city would not be able to receive the 1% sales tax until the estimated $42.3 million net financial obligation is paid.
Pending Prop A failure and Prop B approval, the city plans to use the funds to create a dedicated economic development fund, provide public transportation services and expand critical city infrastructure.
Each CapMetro city’s participation is funded through a 1% sales tax. This is in addition to the state’s 6.25% sales tax and the city of Leander’s 1% general fund sales tax.
The city anticipates receiving $11.75 million in the current 1% sales tax this fiscal year and a total of $164 million over the next 10 years.
More ballot decisions
Leander voters will also vote “yes” or “no” on 13 city charter amendments. These range from changes to term limits to mayoral duties to mayor pro tem appointments.
Three Leander City Council seats are up for election as well. Place 1, 3 and 5 council members will be decided with only two of the three incumbents running for reelection.
Early voting began April 25 and ends May 3. Election Day is May 7 with voting times from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Voters can find more Leander election information, including ballot language, on the city’s website.