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Battle over proposed AISD bond package heats up

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The battle over a nearly billion dollar Austin ISD bond package is heating up. Signs for and against the Austin ISD billion bond package are going up across town.

With early voting to start next Monday members of the Travis County Taxpayers Union questioned why so much money is going to basic maintenance work and described the bond package as irresponsible.

"Would you borrow money, take a second mortgage on your house to go buy an iPad? That's what AISD wants you the taxpayer to go out and do," Roger Falk with the Travis County Taxpayers Union.

This election process will not be an all or nothing vote. The $892.2 million to-do list is broken into four different propositions.

The first, which totals $140.5 million is to buy energy efficient technology lab and transportation equipment and upgrade food services.

The $233.9 million in Prop 2 is to be used for new schools, additions as well as making safety and security improvements.

Prop 3 at $349.1 million includes school repairs and library renovations.

Prop 4 dedicates $168.5 million to improving academic initiatives like fine arts, PE, and Vo-Tech. Some of the money will also go to converting old Anderson High into an all-male campus.

Supporters, like John Blaizer, with the AISD Citizens Bond Advisory group, have argued that the bonds are a good investment for Austin.

"We're at a tipping point in Austin, the middle class still participates in public education and if we don't maintain them we're going to lose our middle class and we're not going to take care of our kids," said Blaizer.

According to promotional material, the bonds will cost an average Austin homeowner only $70 a year. In a challenge to that claim the Taxpayers Union on Tuesday plans to file a lawsuit, according to spokesperson Don Zimmerman.

"They're making that claim on a misleading frequently asked question statement, that's not legally binding, has nothing to do with what happens to the tax rate," said Zimmerman.

Zimerman says an ethics complaint has already been filed alleging that tax dollars are being used illegally to promote the bonds. The complaint may also include the use of what's called informational signs.

One is located on school property at the main entrance Anderson High School. It makes notification of the bond election day and also provides a long list of how much money will be used on that campus and for what. Opposition signs are not allowed on school property.

Austin ISD released the following statement:

"The Travis County Taxpayer's Union has not provided a copy of, nor has the district been served with, a lawsuit. We are confident that the district is complying with all laws related to the May bond election. The district has and will continue to provide the public with factual information about the May bond election and the scope of work at each of its facilities."

The lawsuit that's expected Tuesday could force the bond election to be delayed. As of now, early voting starts Monday the 29th and runs until May 7th. The last day to vote will be on May 11.


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