Halt Transportation Bond expenditures pending Comm. review

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Don Zimmerman
Posts: 168
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:05 am

Halt Transportation Bond expenditures pending Comm. review

Post by Don Zimmerman » Tue Mar 24, 2015 3:10 pm

Halt Transportation Bond expenditures pending Mobility Committee Review

DRAFT RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, at the election held November 6, 2012, the voters of the City of Austin approved Proposition 12 to authorize $143,295,000 in bonds for the purposes of funding transportation and mobility projects; and

WHEREAS, presently, only 24 percent of that bond revenue has been obligated with 15 percent having actually been expended thus far and 9 percent having been encumbered, leaving about $100 million unexpended; and

WHEREAS, citizens of Austin have time and time again expressed great concern about vehicular traffic congestion in the city and it is within the discretion of the City Council to re-direct the unobligated, unexpended, and unencumbered revenue from the voter-approved bonds to expeditiously address the more immediate transportation and mobility needs of Austin; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED,
that the City Council directs the City Manager to not obligate any of the unobligated, unexpended, and unencumbered revenue from the voter-approved bonds until after the Mobility Committee of the City Council reviews and recommends their best use to the full council and the full council approves the transportation and mobility projects.
Don Zimmerman
Council Member District 6 (northwest Austin)

Don Zimmerman
Posts: 168
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:05 am

Re: Halt Transportation Bond expenditures pending Comm. revi

Post by Don Zimmerman » Fri Apr 10, 2015 2:25 pm

FYI: e-mail thread with Q&A regarding our effort to have current Council review and possibly re-prioritize parts of $143 million 2012 Mobility Bond package:


QUESTIONS-AND-ANSWERS BETWEEN COUNCIL MEMBER ZIMMERMAN’S OFFICE AND MIKE TRIMBLE OF CITY’S CAPITAL PLANNING OFFICE

CM ZIMMERMAN’S OFFICE: In reading through your memorandum dated March 26, 2015, and its appendices—on the subject of 2012 Bond Proposition 12: Transportation and Mobility—it is not clear as to what revenue from Proposition 12 (November 6, 2012) could be correctly described as still “unexpended” and what revenue could be correctly be described as still “unencumbered”. Please tell us the “unexpended” amount in the form of a dollar figure and please tell us the “unencumbered” amount likewise in the form of a dollar figure.

MIKE TRIMBLE’S REPLY: With regard to 2012 Prop 12 status provided in the 3/26/15 memorandum to Council:

$121,768,054 is unexpended (“Voter Approved” amount minus the “Expended” amount from page 2 of the memo)

$108,939,271 is unencumbered (“Voter Approved” amount minus the “Obligated” amount from page 2 of the memo)

CM ZIMMERMAN’S OFFICE: On page 2 of your memorandum, it uses in the table in the middle of the page the word “Obligated” and the message corresponding to the asterisk next to that particular word says “Obligated funds include funds that are encumbered (commitments made to unperformed contracts for goods or services) and expended.”

Does that mean that $143,299,000 (“Voter Approved”) minus $108,515,000 (“Appropriated”) equals $34,784,000 is the amount that the current City Council could redirect for the advancement of transportation and mobility as the City Council deems fit?

MIKE TRIMBLE’S REPLY: The $34 million amount you refer to represents the amount that is unappropriated as of the end of First Quarter, Fiscal Year 2015. With regard to the Council’s flexibility for use of unappropriated funds, I refer to the following language in the memorandum, page 2:

The majority of Proposition 12 funds have been appropriated for projects that meet the public purpose of the bond and expectations established during bond development. Appropriations are done in multiple phases and not all at one time to coincide with when funding is anticipated to be needed to complete work over a multi-year timeframe. Remaining appropriations are programmed for use on transportation/mobility projects and programs that are already underway and are included in the Five-Year Capital Improvement Program Plan as part of the budget process. The majority of Proposition 12 spending is anticipated to occur before the end of 2017.

While $34 million remains to be appropriated, future appropriations are currently programmed to advance projects already underway. Some flexibility exists to reprogram these funds within a given purpose if council chooses to take that action. However, as stated above, this funding is tied to named projects and projects prioritized in ongoing programs that have undergone stakeholder input and prioritization processes both during bond development and after voter approval as part of bond program delivery and implementation. For example, Sidewalks program and Street Reconstruction program have established prioritization mechanisms based on technical assessment, citizen input, calls for service, and other factors.

Staff can provide Council additional information on projects/programs awaiting additional appropriations if desired.

CM ZIMMERMAN’S OFFICE: Or, on the other hand, does that mean that $143,299,000 (“Voter Approved”) minus $34,359,729 (“Obligated”) equals $108,939,271 is the amount that the current City Council could redirect for the advancement of transportation and mobility as the City Council deems fit?

MIKE TRIMBLE’S REPLY: A few definitions may be helpful in considering Council flexibility with respect to voter-approved bond funding – cited from the City’s Bond Programs Report submitted to the Bond Oversight Committee:

Appropriated: City Council authorizes the appropriation of funds, which gives staff the legal authority to expend the funds for a specific purpose. City Council may approve multiple installments of funding throughout the project’s phases.
Unexpended (or “Available” in the Bond Programs Report): The amount of funds allocated (“voter approved”) minus the amount encumbered and expended (“obligated”). Available funds are programmed for specific purposes.

With regard to the question of “could council redirect” funding, Council has flexibility to reprogram funds as described in the 3/26 memorandum but with the parameters, caveats, and potential impacts also noted in the memorandum.

CM ZIMMERMAN’S OFFICE: In your statement on page 1 of the memorandum which reads “This information essentially creates an agreement with the voters that if the Bond Program is authorized, these are the projects and programs that will be funded” and we were curious as to your use of the word “essentially”. Is it your position that the City Council has no discretion at all to redirect—albeit for the advancement of transportation and mobility in Austin as the Council might deem fit—any of the still unexpended and still unencumbered revenue raised by Proposition 12?

MIKE TRIMBLE’S REPLY: The legal considerations provided in the 3/26 memorandum are provided as additional information to Council for its consideration. Another section of the 3/26 memorandum is pertinent to your question, and provides context for the sentence that you cite above:

With regard to 2012 Proposition 12, State law requires that voter-approved bond funds are spent on projects that meet the public purpose of the approved proposition. The Attorney General’s Office must approve the issuance of bonds. They will look to see if the funds are being used for the purpose for which they were approved by voters. City Council authorizes the appropriation of funds, which gives staff the legal authority to expend the funds for a specific purpose. Appropriated funds must be used on improvements that meet the purpose for which the voters approved the funds.

This information is based upon Law Department staff expertise and experience with voter-approved bond matters. For additional information, I recommend contacting Anne Morgan, Interim City Attorney on any legal questions.
Don Zimmerman
Council Member District 6 (northwest Austin)

Don Zimmerman
Posts: 168
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:05 am

Re: Halt Transportation Bond expenditures pending Comm. revi

Post by Don Zimmerman » Thu May 21, 2015 5:54 pm

Austin City Council Member Don Zimmerman (District 6, Northwest Austin), in conjunction with office staff, conducted a thorough analysis of the $140 million in revenues generated by the voter-approved November 2012 municipal bond election earmarked for mobility and transportation projects.

Combining data furnished by the City’s Transportation Department as well as by its Public Works Department, the Councilman confirmed what he had suspected all along—that District 6 is not getting anywhere close to its fair share of those revenues.

According to Zimmerman’s calculations, only a meager 0.6 percent of the $140 million in bond revenues are earmarked for District 6, with only $90,000 for public works and only $793,393 for transportation projects. Yet the taxpayers of District 6 are certainly contributing far more than 0.6 percent for the bond projects citywide. “The people of District 6 deserve a much better return on their investment” the Councilman said.

Zimmerman, therefore, has proposed that the new 10-1 Council re-evaluate those revenues, thus far not expended and not yet obligated, and re-purpose them for other mobility and transportation projects. The goal would be to more fairly redistribute the over-all revenue pot for such projects throughout the entire city.

District-----------Funds-----% of Total
DISTRICT 9---$42,455,839---29.8%
DISTRICT 7---$23,548,588---16.5%
DISTRICT 4---$22,907,384---16.1%
DISTRICT 8---$14,082,494---9.9%
DISTRICT 1---$13,919,139---9.8%
DISTRICT 3---$10,040,353---7.0%
DISTRICT 5----$5,925,458---4.2%
DISTRICT 10---$4,916,945---3.4%
DISTRICT 2----$3,989,882---2.8%
DISTRICT 6------$883,393---0.6%

Link to spreadsheet data:
http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 175054.xls
Don Zimmerman
Council Member District 6 (northwest Austin)

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