Election officials in Travis County say early voter turnout this year is higher than in previous mid-term elections. Filling the unexpired term of state representative Mark Strama could be driving some to the polls, but a controversial multimillion bond issue may also be a factor.
Bond money approved in 2006 renovated the Sierra Vista apartments. The complex at the intersection of south Congress and St Elmo is designated as affordable housing. Clyde Hamilton moved in before the property got its helping hand make-over. He feels like the money was well spent. But is his rent still affordable?
"So far it is," said Hamilton.
Austin voters are being asked to approve a $65-million bond issue to provide more affordable housing. An estimated 3,400 more, according to Elliott McFadden with Foundation Communities.
"Its comprehensive and it's important for everybody to know that the folks who live in these communities that are built pay rent or are putting their own money into their house," said McFadden.
Some of the bond money could be used by groups like habitat for humanity and even Meals on Wheels and More.
"So those organizations are either building houses or they're doing the home repair program which helps seniors who are already in their homes make critical safety repairs so they can stay in their homes for the long term," said McFadden.
If you think you've been done this road before, you'd be right. Last November voters rejected a $78 million bond issue for Affordable Housing.
The Travis County Taxpayer's Union put up signs with the words, "No, means no."
"These things often times become zombies, they keep coming back over and over and over," said Roger Falk with the Taxpayer's Union.
Current homeowners, according to the organization, will get stuck with the bill.
"There's going to be Bonds we are paying on currently, that are going to fall off, these are going to replace them, so in other words we could have had a tax decrease, but instead we will fill that gap with these new bonds that will keep that tax rate where it is," said Falk.
Members of the Taxpayer's Union also suspect the bond money, if approved, will only pad the wallets of developers and remodelers who support the proposal and not people like bill stark who was spotted Monday afternoon digging in a Sierra Vista dumpster. Stark said he doesn't live there- but it is a location that helps him survive the streets. Each month he digs out several hundred dollars' worth of aluminum, I asked him how much rent he could afford to pay a month.
"Probably about $300," said Stark.
He would like to know if he could get into one of the affordable units, but so far no one at the complex- has talk to stark about it.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texans will vote on nine proposed constitutional amendments during Tuesday's statewide referendum.
Here is a summary of the amendments:
Proposition 1 authorizes the Legislature exempt from property all or part of the market value of the homestead of the surviving spouse of a member of the United States armed services who is killed in action, as long as the surviving spouse has not remarried.
Proposition 2 repeals the constitutional provision requiring a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is in operation.
Proposition 3 authorizes local authorities to extend the length of time that aircraft parts could remain temporarily in this state before being subject to property tax. Under current law, aircraft parts may remain in Texas for up to 175 days before being subject to tax. Taxing entities could extend the exemption up to 730 days.
Proposition 4 allows the Legislature to provide for a property tax exemption of part of the market value of the homestead of a partially disabled veteran, or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran, if the residence was donated by a charitable organization.
Proposition 5 amends the definition of "reverse mortgage" to authorize reverse mortgage loans for the purchase of homestead property in addition to the current uses, and would give lenders recourse against borrowers who fail to timely occupy the homestead properties purchased with such loans.
Proposition 6 creates the State Water Implementation Fund as a special fund inside the state treasury and outside the General Revenue Fund. Money in the fund would be administered by the Texas Water Development Board and would be used to implement the state water plan.
Proposition 7 allows home-rule municipalities to adopt provisions authorizing the filling of vacancies in the governing body by appointment, but only when the remainder of the vacant term is less than 12 months.
Proposition 8 repeals the Texas Constitution's maximum tax rate for a Hidalgo County hospital district. The maximum rate is currently set at 10 cents per $100 valuation, which is lower than the maximum tax rate allowable for hospital districts in all other counties in the state (75 cents per $100 valuation).
Proposition 9 expands the potential sanctions that the State Commission on Judicial Conduct can issue following a formal proceeding. This constitutional amendment would allow the commission to issue an order of public admonition, warning, reprimand, or a requirement to obtain additional training or education in addition to the Commission's current authority to issue a public censure or recommend removal or retirement of a judge.
Source: Texas Secretary of State: http://www.sos.state.tx.us/
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