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.