Convention Center big winner, while Expo Center gets smaller victory

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Voters in Travis County passed Proposition A Tuesday but Austin voters rejected the city’s Proposition B. Both propositions have to do with how money from hotel occupancy taxes are used.

Austin Proposition B – Failed

Austin’s Prop. B would have required voter approval for improvements to the Austin Convention Center which cost more than $20 million. It would have also limited how much hotel occupancy tax money can go toward the convention center: 34% to the center and 36% to supporting Austin’s cultural tourism industry.

Final vote totals show 64% voted against and 35,642 36% voted for Prop. B.

Mayor Adler said Tuesday night in light of early voting and mail-in results, he’s optimistic it will fail.

“There were a lot of things that were put at risk with Proposition B and that’s why I am relieved to see how this vote seems to be going,” Adler said.

He said Proposition B delayed the $1.2 billion convention center expansion process the city has been working on and now expects city manager Spencer Cronk to come back with a more detailed plan regarding financing and design.

Those in favor of the proposition, like Fred Lewis who supports the Political Action Committee Unconventional Austin, previously told KXAN “Prop B gives voters a vote on the convention center expansion and it puts the convention center on a budget.”

Shall an ordinance be adopted that prioritizes the use of Austin’s Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue by continuing the City practice to spend 15% of the Austin Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue on cultural arts and 15% on historic preservation, limiting the City’s spending to construct, operate, maintain, or promote the Austin Convention Center to 34% of Austin’s Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue, and requiring all remaining Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue to support and enhance Austin’s Cultural Tourism Industry to the potential exclusion of other allowable uses under the Tax code; and requires the City to obtain voter approval and public oversight for convention-center improvement and expansion costing more than $20,000,000?”

City of Austin Proposition B

Travis County Proposition A – Passed

Travis County’s Prop. A allows the county to collect 2% of the hotel occupancy tax from hotels in Travis County but outside Austin. The money would go toward expanding and renovating the Travis County Exposition Center near Decker Lake in east Austin.

Final vote totals indicate 62% voted for and 38% voted against the proposition.

“Today’s election results prove Travis County residents want to revitalize and energize the Travis County Exposition Center. With this new investment, the Travis County Exposition Center will continue to serve as an anchor institution preserving and celebrating our cultural heritage, generating educational opportunities for our young people and bringing thriving economic development to East Austin and Eastern Travis County. I look forward to working with the City of Austin to determine how soon it will relinquish two percent of the hotel occupancy tax so that Travis County can make the voter-authorized investment in the Exposition Center,” said Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt in a statement.

Authorizing Travis County, Texas to provide for the planning, acquisition, establishment, development, construction, renovation, and financing of new and existing facilities of the type described by Section 334.001(4)(A) of the Texas Local Government Code, including a multipurpose arena and adjacent support facilities and any related infrastructure in the area of the Travis County Exposition Center and designated by a resolution of the Commissioners Court of the County adopted on July 30, 2019 (the “Resolution”) as a sports and community venue project within the County in accordance with applicable law (the “Venue Project”), and to impose a new hotel occupancy tax on the occupancy of a room in a hotel located within the County, at a rate not to exceed 2% of the price paid for such room, and if approved, the maximum hotel occupancy tax rate imposed from all sources in the County would be 17% of the price paid for a room in a hotel, for the purpose of financing the Venue Project, and approving the Resolution.”

Travis County Proposition A

“Today is a good day for the East Travis County community. These election results prove voters are ready to invest in our community. While this investment is long overdue, I am optimistic about what a revitalized and energized Travis County Exposition Center can bring to East Travis County,” said Jeff Travillion, Travis County Commissioner, Precinct 1.

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