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Austin voters approve Proposition A to help fund $7.1B Project Connect plan

By voting in favor of Prop A, voters have approved a property tax rate increase that will help fund Project Connect, CapMetro’s $7.1 billion public transit plan.

AUSTIN, Texas — Project Connect is one step closer to becoming a reality. The City of Austin has claimed victory over Proposition A, or Project Connect.  

According to City leaders, Austinites voted in favor of Proposition A, which approves the City’s property tax rate and dedicates 8.75 cents of the operations and maintenance portion of the tax rate for Project Connect, Capital Metro’s $7.1 billion public transit plan.

By approving Proposition A, voters have ensured the initial investment of Project Connect will be completed, according to the City.

"With the passage of Prop A, voters have given the green light to a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revolutionize our transportation infrastructure," said City Manager Spencer Cronk in a statement. "Project Connect will be better for our residents’ health, environment, safety, & prosperity.”  

RELATED: Project Connect: What to know about the proposed $7.1B public transit plan

The City is expecting to receive federal funding for approximately 45% of the project’s total cost, and CapMetro is also allocating its Capital Expansion Fund to the project. The property tax revenue will provide the rest plus operations and maintenance of the transit system once it is built, according to the City. Also included in the initial investment is $300 million for anti-displacement housing strategies.

Here’s a breakdown of what the initial investment for Project Connect includes:

  • Blue Line: A light rail line running from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), connecting through the Downtown Station and running north to Lamar Boulevard at U.S. 183
  • Orange Line: A light rail line running from North Lamar Boulevard at U.S. 183 south to Stassney Lane, connecting through Republic Square
  • Downtown Transit Tunnel: The underground tunnel would run more than 20 city blocks (1.6 miles) from Cesar Chavez Street to 11th Street, from Guadalupe Street to Trinity Street, and from Fourth Street to the cul de sac near Lady Bird Lake at Trinity Street.
  • Green Line: Like the current Red Line, the Green Line would serve as a commuter rail running from downtown to the Colony Park neighborhood in East Austin
  • Gold Line: A new rapid bus route going from the Austin Community College Highland area, through the Downtown Station to the Republic Square Station.
  • Three new MetroRapid routes, which are buses with frequent service and a limited number of stops
  • Neighborhood circulators: 15 new zones or vehicles would be added to help neighborhoods gain better access to the main transit lines
  • Community displacement: A $300 million investment that would help communities affected by transit line creation and construction
  • Other features including park and rides, customer technology systems and maintenance facility improvements

The dedicated property tax revenue, along with CapMetro revenue and the anticipated federal funding, will be directed to a new independent government organization called the Austin Transit Partnership. That organization will oversee, finance and implement Project Connect.

During an interview with KVUE's Bryce Newberry, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he's happy with the way Austinites voted.

"This Prop A vote was decades in the making. I'm just proud to live in this city that's looking to its future so emphatically, saying that the status quo is not good enough," Adler said. "Austin is going to continue to push to be a more sustainable and equitable and affordable city. And this was a big part of that and I'm excited to see that passed with such a large margin."

Adler added the city was able to find a balance between congestion and affordability when it comes to the tax increases.

"The opposition was passing the untruth that property taxes would rise in double-digit percentages, and that simply was not true. And the public saw around that," Adler said. "It's just under a 4% increase. And for that, we get so much. I think on balance, it's going to be really good for affordability."

According to the City, the estimated tax bill impact of the passage of Proposition A is an approximation-based Fiscal Year 2020/2021 property tax rate, so it reflects assumptions about market and economic conditions that may be subject to change. The anticipated annual tax bill impact is based on taxable home value, which is the appraised value of a home after property tax exemptions have been applied. Take a look at the City’s math.

KVUE also did an analysis of our own of how much an Austin taxpayer’s property tax rate is expected to change, whether Proposition A passed or not. Here’s how the math works out.

During KVUE’s in-depth analysis of Project Connect, we reported that supporters of the plan also expect it to have a major impact on Austin jobs, the economy, Downtown Austin and more.

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