Early voting begins for May 11 elections in Texas - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Early voting begins for May 11 elections in Texas

Early voting opened Monday across the city for the May election and one of the most discussed issues on the ballot is a nearly billion dollar bond package for Austin schools.

Anderson High School is one of the many Austin schools that would benefit with a passing of the bond. Anderson needs $11million to refurbish its gym.

But this bond is raising as many questions as answers. The debate Monday was heavy and FOX 7 wanted to hear from both sides.

"The district deliberately picked an unbelievably a low turnout election," said Don Zimmerman of Travis County Taxpayers Union.

The rhetoric began Monday morning in northwest Austin. The Travis County Taxpayers Union had the media's attention with their beef on the bond proposal.

"I wanna make sure that everyone understands the district cannot advocate for or against the bond," said Alex Sanchez.

A late afternoon 11th hour press conference from AISD to counter the bond naysayers was held.

Voting early or late, this bond proposal has plenty of thorny issues, one being the timing of the bond on a historically low May ballot.

"It maximizes the special interest vote right? When you have a tiny turnout you can have contractors and bankers and school district employees who dominate the election. So this is totally wrong," said Zimmerman.

"The advantage of this bond having it in May is this is the focus of the election is it gives the press and the newspapers to fully inform the public," said Blazier AISD Bond Committee Chairman.

Taxes and how much it will affect your tax bill is another of the hot button topics weighing heavily on this proposal. The pro side estimates $70 dollars per year on a $200,000 house.

"If you anti-tax your anti-tax. What we are is pro kid, we're pro student and we wanna see the best education in Austin," said Ken Zarifis of Educate Austin.

"Once they get $10 million for a $2 million project what's to stop them from spending the whole $10 million? The answer is nothing. Tax payments have no authority over how this money is spent," said Zimmerman.

And why is this over $800 million bond proposal so large? Repairs, maintenance and schools being built. Where is this large sum of money going?

"These repairs should not be being covered by borrowed funds that are paid back over 25 years," said Roger Flak of the Travis County Taxpayers Union.

"You have to be real careful when your quoting costs to differentiate between construction costs or total project costs. What we use is total project costs," said Director of Construction Management Jeff Kaufman.

DJ Cardamone says she's a professional mom. She wanted to be at the side of the Tax Payers Union today out of concern.

"We now need nearly a billion dollars more on top of what we're already paying, that feels inflated to me so I think we need to look at it closer... maybe it is inflated," Cardamone.

Cardamone says If we don't' challenge things like this bond then issues like this can run rampant.

Part of the money in the bond if passed 11 million of it would go to renovating Anderson High's gymnasium.

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