As Early Voting and Election Day in the 2018 Mid-Term draw near, so does that inevitable state of panic when you realize you haven’t read up on all the Bonds… and Propositions… and all the things that aren’t people on the ballot. And let’s not kid ourselves, sometimes the wording in those things is dense. But more often than not, once you take a moment to read them, you realize that they kinda make sense. Then the ball is in your court: All’s you have to do is decide whether you are For or Against them.
Here’s our handy list of all the wonky city language that is contained in all the City of Austin bonds and propositions.
Click to read the ballot language on:
• Proposition A $250 million for affordable housing
• Proposition B $128 million for libraries, museums and cultural centers
• Proposition C $149 million for parks and recreation
• Proposition D $184 million for flood mitigation, open space, and water quality protection
• Proposition E $16 million for health and human services
• Proposition F $38 million for public safety
• Proposition G $160 million for transportation infrastructure
Click here to see City’s informative page of Bond information including
Tax Impact analysis, Open House event schedule, and Program Updates.
THE CHARTER AMENDMENTS AND PETITION INITIATIVES
(For the following, use our handy pull-down functions to read the full language of each Prop)
• Proposition H Shall the City Charter be amended to provide that the term of service and process for removal of the Planning Commission members be determined by ordinance?
YES or NO
If Proposition H is approved by the majority of voters voting at the election, the City Charter is amended to read as follows:
§ 2. – THE PLANNING COMMISSION — ORGANIZATION.
There shall be established a planning commission which shall consist of citizens of the City of Austin who must be registered voters in the city and must have resided within the city for one year next preceding their appointment. The planning commission shall have a number of members equal to the number of members on the council plus two additional members, a minimum of two-thirds of the members who shall be lay members not directly or indirectly connected with real estate and land development. The city manager, the chairperson of the zoning board of adjustment, the director of public works, and the president of the board of trustees of the Austin Independent School District shall serve as ex-officio members. The members of said commission shall be appointed by the council for a term of up to two years. The timing of appointments, as well as a process for removing commissioners prior to expiration of a term, shall be established by ordinance. The commission shall elect a chairperson from among its membership and shall meet not less than once each month. Vacancies in an unexpired term shall be filled by the council for the remainder of the term.
To compare and see changes from previous language, click here and scroll to page 9 of 54.
• Proposition I Shall the City Charter be amended to make non-substantive corrections to grammar, typographical errors, capitalization, punctuation, and sentence structure; and to change or remove charter language that is obsolete?
YES or NO
If Proposition I is approved by the majority of voters voting at the election, the City Charter is amended to read as shown in this link. To compare and see changes from previous language, click here and scroll down to page 10 of 54.
• Proposition J A proposed citizen-initiated ordinance regarding whether there must be both a waiting period and subsequent voter approval before any comprehensive revisions of the City’s land development laws may go into effect.
BALLOT LANGUAGE: Shall a City ordinance be adopted to require both a waiting period and subsequent voter approval period, a total of up to three years, before future comprehensive revisions of the City’s land development code become effective?
YES or NO
If the proposition provided in Part 8 is approved by the majority of voters voting at the election, the City Code is amended to read as follows:
REQUIRED WAITING PERIOD AND VOTER REFERENDUM FOR COMPREHENSIVE REVISIONS OF THE CITY’S LAND DEVELOPMENT LAWS.
(A) Waiting Period. CodeNEXT, or subsequent comprehensive revisions of the land development laws, shall not go into effect legally, or any land entitlements be granted or vested under these laws, until the June 1st following the next regularly scheduled council elections after Council adopts CodeNEXT or the comprehensive revisions. This waiting period is to ensure voters can learn about the proposed comprehensive revisions and elect council members with sufficient time to amend or reject the prior council’s adopted comprehensive revisions before these laws may go into effect.
(B) Voter Approval. After the waiting period in Subsection (A), CodeNEXT, or subsequent comprehensive revisions of the land development laws, shall not go into effect, or any land entitlements be granted or vested under these laws, until the registered voters of Austin approve these laws at the next available municipal election. Voters shall approve or disapprove CodeNEXT, or subsequent comprehensive revisions, in its entirety and not piecemeal. Should the voters fail to approve the comprehensive revisions, then the existing land development laws remain in effect. Notwithstanding any other provision, under no circumstances shall the voters’ rejection of CodeNEXT or proposed comprehensive revisions under this Section be considered or interpreted as repealing the existing land development code.
(C) This section overrides all city charter provisions, ordinances, and laws and should be liberally construed to uphold Austin citizens’ sovereign rights to control their government and laws.
(D) Severability Clause. If any provision of this ordinance or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of this Act that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this act are declared to be severable.
To compare and see changes from previous language, click here and scroll to page 48 of 54.
• Proposition K A proposed citizen-initiated ordinance regarding an efficiency study of the City’s operational and fiscal performance conducted by an independent third party.
BALLOT LANGUAGE: Without using the existing internal City Auditor or existing independent external auditor, shall the City Code be amended to require an efficiency study of the City’s operational and fiscal performance performed by a third-party audit consultant, at an estimated cost of $1 million – $5 million?
YES or NO
If the proposition provided in Part 9 is approved by the majority of voters voting at the election, the City Code Chapter 2-3 (City Auditor) is amended to add new Section 2-3-12, to read as follows:
(A) The City’s Efficiency Study will provide an impartial, objective review of the city’s operational and fiscal performance, including development of a Government Efficiency Blueprint which includes a comprehensive budget analysis, efficiency and enhancement recommendations, and a targeted list of opportunities for operating savings.
(B) The efficiency study shall be conducted by an independent third party entity with extensive experience in government efficiency, and is knowledgeable in fiscal and budget analysis, public administration, and municipal finance and fiscal practices. The city may not contract with or hire, as an independent third party entity, an entity which has had a contract directly with the city within the past 5 years, or which employs an individual who:
(1) has served as the City’s mayor, a council member, city auditor or city manager or has had a contract directly with the city within five years before the date of hire; or
(2) is related, by affinity or consanguinity within the second degree, to the mayor, a council member, city auditor, or the city manager.
OBJECTIVES AND WORK PRODUCT
(C) The efficiency study shall produce a Government Efficiency Blueprint (Plan) that recommends specific opportunities for consolidation, shared services, and other changes that permanently reduce tax burdens and/or increase the quantity and quality of services. The efficiency study shall include all City Departments, including all General Fund Departments and all publicly-owned utilities, including, but not limited to, Austin Energy, Austin Water, Austin Resource Recovery, all Enterprise Departments, including, but not limited to, the Austin Convention Center, the Austin Transportation Department, and all Internal Service Departments, including but not limited to. Law, Human Resources, Economic Development and Fleet Services. The Plan will identify specific targets for program efficiencies, cost savings, revenue enhancements, private/public partnership initiatives, and monetization of unused or underutilized city assets. The Plan shall include:
(1) A comprehensive diagnostic analysis of the City’s budget to identify spending and revenue trends and outliers. This Plan objective should include:
o Trend Analysis – Review and analysis of both historical and forecasted revenue and expense trends
o Benchmarking analysis – Comparison of the City’s revenue and expense spending levels to peer cities and other recognized benchmarks
(2) Identify recommendations that prioritize target areas with large and substantial expenditures that affect the City’s general revenue fund and where the City can become more efficient and thereby provide cost savings.
(3) A prioritized listing of opportunities for operating savings, efficiency and enhancement recommendations both in written form and explained through testimony before the City Council and other responsible bodies. These recommendations should be classified into short-term opportunities which can be implemented within the current budget cycle, medium-term opportunities which can be implemented within one to three years, and long-term opportunities which may require three or more years to implement. The recommendations should be documented and the independent third party entity shall make the working papers available that detail the assumptions behind the cost and benefit estimates for each recommendation.
(4) The independent third party entity shall be available and willing to assist in the implementation of its recommendations. The Plan shall also include: a list of the required critical steps, including any statutory or regulatory changes, an estimate of the financial and personnel resources required, an estimate of the timeframe to implement the recommendations, and any deployment strategies, communication management, dashboards, and monitoring tools necessary for its implementation.
INDEPENDENCE AND NON-INTERFERENCE
(D) The independent third party entity shall have the full cooperation and assistance of the City Manager, publicly-owned utilities. Enterprise Departments, Internal Services Departments and all other City Departments in providing unfettered access to all data and information requested. City employees shall provide free and open access to, and furnish copies of information in any medium, including a record, book, account, internal or external memorandum, tape, report, file, diskette, computer data, money, find, or other information, and shall also provide free and open access to property, equipment, facilities, and operations for inspection or observation.
To compare and see changes from previous language, click here and scroll to page 48 of 54.
HERE’S WHERE YOU COME IN
So now that we’ve got you all good and revved up, make sure that you are properly registered to vote, know when to Early Vote, and what to do on Election Day by checking out our previous post on getting out the VOTE!