One of the more surprising results from last week’s election was Austin voters defeated a courthouse bond package.
Austin City Council Member Don Zimmerman, who led the opposition to the courthouse project, said the last-minute defeat of the bonds was an “absolute stunning result.”
“The corporate downtown special interest lobby spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this,” he said. His anti-courthouse campaign through the Travis County Taxpayers Union barely spent anything, he said. “I think a lot of people heard that and said, ‘Well why are hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent if it’s such a good idea?’”
He said part of the reason the bonds were rejected is that Austin-area voters are increasingly concerned about affordability and increasingly loathe to support tax increases.
Because I live outside the city limits and in Williamson County, I was only vaguely aware of the Courthouse bond issue. As long as I’ve been in the Austin area, I can’t recall another bond issue going down in flames like this one. Could the People’s Republic of Austin finally have had enough of tax increases?
“It is not that complicated,” said local attorney Mark Pulliam. “Travis County homeowners are sick of property tax increases.”
“Only pompous, out-of-touch downtown lawyers — like those who belong to the Austin Bar Association — would think that a 14-story high-rise costing more than The Austonian, and almost as much as the just-completed JW Marriott, the largest in the North America, made sense,” he told Watchdog.org.
The Watchdog piece suggests that the long overdue move to single City Council districts may have been a factor in defeating the bond issue.
Also, Travis County suburbs may finally have become populous enough to balance out the liberal central city for county elections like this one. Indeed, that’s what this map suggests.