TCTU leads numerous small groups and voters to victory against Bond

Nov 4th, 2015

The Travis County Taxpayers Union (TCTU) believes voters made a prudent decision in rejecting the courthouse bond.  We postulate several principal issues influenced its defeat; fatigue with ever increasing downtown-focused development subsidies and congestion, frustration with unabated increases in un-affordable property taxes, a convoluted public-private real estate investment scheme that deviated from county government’s core mission, and a rejection of the influence of special interest money on our local elections.  The counties own master plan calls for a total of 126,350 sq. ft. of civil courtroom space by 2035.  The $287m courthouse scheme was for 520,000 sq. ft., the size of the Frost Bank building.  It was a perfect storm of exorbitant size, astronomical price per square foot, unpopular location and financial hocus-pocus.  We also perceive a rejection of the local, “Citizens United/Koch Brothers” style, special interest cash fueled PACs.  The “Community for Civil and Family Courthouse PAC” collected over $320,000, much of it from outside Travis county, compared to the TCTU SPAC who spent around $3,000.  Voters are tired of being manipulated by the same old politically connected consultants and ‘rubber stamp’ endorsers who have been eroding Austin affordability for two decades.  The people have spoken.  We now hope to see a more affordable plan that includes less expensive east Austin sites.



RECA joins opposition to $287M downtown Travis courthouse Bond


Travis County Taxpayers Union (plus other groups) are holding press conference against downtown courthouse Bond:
Wed. Oct 14th 
11:30 AM
Austin City Hall outdoor plaza 
TCTU analyst Bill Worsham is leading the conference


NOTE — 22-Oct-2015 —  RECA has joined opposition groups:

DRAFT Resolution TCTU has proposed against Bond, submitted to Travis GOP:

Whereas the $287 million Bond election for the proposed new downtown civil
courthouse on the November 3rd, 2015 ballot, is in addition to the $22 million
of non-voter approved debt used to acquire the downtown courthouse property
site, and;

Whereas, the most recent courthouse site selection analysis was performed in
1999-2001 by a committee consisting of Travis County and other government
employees (Sheriff, Dist. Att’y, Co. purchasing agent, Dist. Judge, Co. Att’y,
tax assessor, exec. mgrs. of other county agencies), and A Guiding Principal of
the Travis County Central Campus Study initiated in 2010 was to keep the
facilities downtown, meaning no other locations were considered or evaluated,

Whereas, over 1,000 daily individual visits are now made to the current
courthouse facility, not including 275 employees or an unspecified number of
credentialed (frequent user) attorneys, with all three numbers forecast to rise,
while only 500 combined parking spaces are pledged, and crucial parking demand
is not part of the estimated project cost, and;

Whereas, Travis County is $695 million in debt with another $91 million of
additional debt issuance already planned for 2016, and;

Whereas, the additional $287 million courthouse debt proposal is less than
one-fourth of the eventual $1.2 Billion need identified by the Central Campus
Study within 25 years, meaning a projected need of at least two additional
rounds of similar magnitude of debt issuance during the life of the currently
proposed (20-year) bonds, and;

Whereas Travis County and Austin taxpayers already suffer the highest taxes and
fees of any major metro area in Texas, and;

Whereas Travis County and Austin residents have some of the highest electric
(PEC and Austin Energy) and water bills of any major metro area in Texas, and;

Whereas the new $287 million of Bond debt would cause an increase of at least
$13 per year for the ‘average’ property owner and an unknown increase to the
‘average’ renter, and;

Whereas real estate experts predict that the proposed downtown courthouse
property could be sold for at least $30 million, and could provide desperately
needed downtown residences remitting at least $120 million in new tax levy over
the next 20 years, and;

Whereas developers predict that a low rise civil courthouse project in
non-congested east Austin could provide many acres of free surface parking and
construction costs 25% to 50% lower than the downtown project, and;

Whereas at least three Austin City Council members (Houston, Troxclair,
Zimmerman) have supported a Resolution asking the Austin City Manager to
cooperate with Travis County on locating government owned land in east Austin
suitable for the new civil courthouse, and could possibly include a combined
city/county justice center, and;

Whereas Travis County has indicated they will not consider alternatives to the
current plan unless the Bond is defeated, then,

BE IT RESOLVED that the Travis County Republican Party urges voters to vote
AGAINST the Travis County civil courthouse Bond on the November 3rd, 2015



TCTU Releases 2014 Austin Congestion Relief Suggestions in Opposition to Urban Rail

Austin has a growing gridlock issue, principally between the hours of 7 – 10 a.m. and 4 – 7 p.m.   The intensity and duration of this gridlock will likely grow with population.  There’s no end-game solution in a growing city; however intelligent upgrades and keeping up with demand controls the problem.  Austin’s the only large city in Texas with no loop connecting its urban core arterials.  San Antonio has two (IH-410 and 1604), Houston has two (IH-610 and 8), Dallas has IH-635/20, Ft Worth has 820/20 and El Paso has 375/54.

Our city has a number of urban core intersections that could be optimized to improve traffic flow.   They’re contributors to lost time, higher emissions and congestion.  Our traffic control system needs a major overhaul.  Some progress has been made by programs like the Advanced Transportation Management System (ATMS), however we need more robust efforts to fund, design and implement a next generation traffic management system.




TCTU 2014 Austin Transportation and Mobility Report, by TCTU Analyst Roger Falk



Press Conference: OPPOSITION to Austin’s Urban Rail Plans Speaks Out

For immediate release:
Austin, TX — Leaders of three diverse groups, COST, TCTU, and Affordability Austin, announce opposition to a November urban light rail proposal.
Jim Skaggs, Roger Falk, and Bill Oakey, in that order, will each speak for about 3 minutes; all will be available for follow up questions from the media.  Opposition leaders are still awaiting details of the urban rail plan; important details have still not emerged after years of “planning”.
If the Austin City Council approves an urban rail resolution June 26th, it’s likely that within 6 weeks more urban rail details will be released from the City; these individuals will have additional comments on those future developments.
Says Jim Skaggs, Director of Austin’s Coalition On Sustainable Transportation:

“The frequent reporting of surprises and bad news regarding urban rail (increasing costs, taxes and congestion) to serve low ridership, and the fact that many key rail questions proposed by the Mayor and others are still unanswered after three years, make it irresponsible to place urban rail on this November’s ballot.”

Says Roger Falk, Transportation Analyst for Travis County Taxpayer’s Union,
Even if recent ideas like homestead exemptions to lower local taxes were implemented, the ‘relief’ could be wiped out by tax increases for the proposed Urban Rail system.  Commissioner Daugherty had the only sustainable solution for escalating property taxes: Limit spending.  Voting for every ‘want’ (affordable housing, boardwalk, library, etc.) has made Austins’ per-citizen tax burden 50% higher than San Antonio’s (adjusted for the utilities).  TCTU asks voters to reject rail in November.”
Bill Worsham, TCTU Analyst and Austin City Council District 10 Candidate, has also expressed urban rail opposition points and is available via cell phone at 512-422-0998.
Says Bill Oakey of Austin Affordability,
“The route from Highland Mall to East Riverside is not a densely populated area, and would do more to help land speculators and developers hoping to attract newcomers than current residents.  The $1 billion price tag could land you a property tax increase of $160 per year within five years on a $200,000 home.  That would come on top of a multitude of other tax increases between now and then. 
WHAT: Initial announcement of Light Rail Bond opposition
WHEN: 26th June (2014),  10:00 AM
WHERE: Austin City Hall 1st floor lobby
WHY: Austin’s Coalition On Sustainable Transporation (COST), Travis County Taxpayers Union (TCTU), and Affordability Austin, enumerate reasons to vote against possible November (2014) rail bond.
For questions or more information, contact Don Zimmerman at 512-577-8842



Travis County Taxpayers Union Urges Austin Voters to Reject Unlimited Taxes and Unsustainable Debt from School Bond Propositions

Press Advisory – Travis County Taxpayers Union Urges Austin Voters to Reject Unlimited Taxes and Unsustainable Debt from School Bond Propositions
Thurs., May 1, 2014

Austin, TX —
TCTU asks voters to reject Austin area school bonds in another attempt to reign in unaffordable debt and taxes.
As a probable consequence of the TCTU lawsuit against AISD last year, the Round Rock ISD heeded a demand letter from TCTU and complied with Texas Education Code — the subject of a drawn-out legal challenge presented by TCTU attorney Stephen Casey against AISD in 2013.
Texas law (Texas Education Code Chapter 45.003)  mandates the words “…the levying of a tax sufficient, without limit as to rate or amount…”, and for the first time in more than a decade, those words appear on a school bond ballot.
TCTU Founder and Treasurer Don Zimmerman adds, “We are pleased that the Travis County GOP Executive Committee unanimously passed a Resolution against the unlimited taxes of the Round Rock ISD Bond, and also opposed other Bonds.  We note that affordability is now a non-partisan issue in the Austin area.
Parents cannot afford unlimited spending on their kids, in spite of loving them far more than the government school does.
The government school must reign in debt and taxes, pay teachers more, pay bureaucrats less, and learn to live within a reasonable budget which doesn’t demand ‘unlimited taxes’.
TCTU urges renters, home owners, and small businesses to vote AGAINST increased taxes and debt; higher rents and taxes are driving many people out of the city.”
REFERENCE:  Travis County sample ballot:
“Round Rock ISD Proposition No. 1
The issuance of $234,155,000 of school
building bonds for acquiring, constructing and
equipping school buildings and purchasing
necessary sites therefor, including acquiring,
constructing, renovating, improving and
equipping school buildings, constructing a
middle school and an elementary school,
acquiring technology replacements, upgrades
and improvements and acquiring school buses;
and the levying of a tax sufficient, without limit 
as to rate or amount, to pay the principal of and 
interest on the bonds and to pay the costs of
any credit agreements executed or authorized
in anticipation of, in relation to or in connection
with the bonds”
Don Zimmerman



Special Interest Propaganda + over $250,000 of corporate money + City Government Lies = Another Taxpayer Loss

Few things expose the breathtaking hypocrisy of this City government and it’s profit-sharing political machine like this past Bond election.

In November of 2012,  about 120,826 voters said “NO” to the city’s demand for $78 million for an “affordable housing” Bond.  To these hypocrites who perpetually extol the virtue of “democracy”, this vote result wasn’t “democratic” at all because it did not satisfy the progressive demand for unending debt and taxation, and did not satisfy a progressive prophecy which declares, “of the increase of money and power upon Austin government, there shall be no end”.  For the Austin political machine,  “No means Yes”, or “No means ask again after $450,000+ of political propaganda and city government disinformation”.

Fast forward to Nov, 2013, when about 39,878 voters say Yes.  This of course is proof that “voters were educated” on the issue and “democracy” was served, in spite of the fact that over 91% of the voters said NO, or said nothing.  Shame on hypocrites claiming to champion “democracy” when they ignore the voice of 91% of the voters, and who claim fewer voters who say YES are “democratic” while more voters who say NO are not.

What TCTU finds alarming is the insatiable lust and greed this city government machine has for other people’s money and liberties.  Worse, that greed comes with a self-righteous god complex that they uniquely care about things like “affordable housing”, while God and the rest of us who work hard to pay our own way without burdening our neighbors, and pay all the taxes, and donate to true charities, don’t care enough, if at all.

What we need to remind everyone about is obvious — if Austinites had won the Nov, 2013 election, the greedy hypocrites would be back to try again.  Likewise, since we lost, the greedy hypocrites will be back to try again.

TCTU gives a hearty THANK YOU to all the volunteers and voters with TAG and the other smaller groups and individuals who worked for all of Austin, trying to RE-DEFEAT this un-affordable Bond.  These same self-righteous progressive hypocrites will be back — and so will we!

TCTU’s Roger Falk on YNN:–65m-affordable-housing-bond

TCTU’s Don Zimmerman on KEYE:



Nov 5th Election Watch Party for UNaffordable Housing Bonds, 7:30PM to 9PM, BB Rover’s Pub

Dear Taxpayer Friend — if you haven’t done so already, PLEASE VOTE!  Early voting results are encouraging because suburban Austin neighborhoods who defeated the Bond a year ago are voting relatively well compared to more central Austin locations.  Overall turnout is pathetic – as expected.

Please join us Tuesday Evening after the polls close:

What: TCTU Election Watch

Where:  BB Rover’s Pub,  12636 Research Blvd. Suite B-101 Austin TX 78759

When:  7:30PM to 9:00 PM

Why:  Meet-up with taxpayer friendly voters and activists and hope for the best (a taxpayer victory #2 on the Unaffordable Housing Bond)



Join EARLY VOTING RALLY against UNaffordable Austin Bonds, Oct 21st, 10AM

Join us at the Randall’s early voting location at Braker Lane and Research, Monday morning at 10:00 AM, to vote against new debt and taxes — Vote for more affordable Austin – Vote AGAINST increased debt and taxes!




PRESS CONFERENCE launches “No Means NO!” whistle-blower campaign against UNaffordable BONDS!


01-Oct-2013 — coverage–no-means-no–on-affordable-housing-bond


*Press Advisory — Travis County Taxpayers Union Launch “No Means NO!” whistle-blower campaign against City Government’s UNaffordable Housing Bonds on Nov 5th ballot:
PRESS CONFERENCE Oct 1st, 10:00AM, Travis County Commissioner Court Lobby

TCTU analysts will highlight reasons to vote against — and RE-defeat, the UNaffordable increase of debt and higher rents and taxes city government wants to impose on Austin residents.

TCTU Analyst Roger Falk will present facts underscoring how UNaffordable the City’s “affordable” housing program has become.

TCTU Treasurer Don Zimmerman will ask if taxpayers need to blow the “taxpayer rape whistle”, because City Council won’t accept “NO” for “will you give us more money?”.

TCTU assesses the City political machine’s top five responses to Austin voters saying “NO” to the November, 2012 UNaffordable Housing Bonds:

5. Just ask AGAIN for even higher rents, taxes, and debt;
4. Raise rents and taxes and utilities so more voters are dependent on government for housing;
3. Marshall more special interest money and voters for another low-turnout election;
2. Conceal private profits at taxpayer expense for housing project owners;
and number ONE:
1. LIE TO VOTERS that increased City spending and debt won’t increase rents and taxes.

“No means NO!” Blow the whistle, Vote Against the UNaffordable Housing Bonds

*WHAT: Press Conference launching campaign against City Government’s UNaffordable Housing Bonds on Nov 5th ballot.

*WHEN: Tuesday, Oct 1st, 10:00 AM.*

*WHERE: Travis County Commissioner Court Building, 700 Lavaca St. (1st Floor Lobby)

For more information, contact Don Zimmerman, 512-577-8842

The Travis County Taxpayers Union was established in 2012 to represent the
best interests of Travis County Taxpayers against special public and
private interests demanding subsidies at the taxpayer’s expense.