Climate Bond Initiative

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Colleen Pate
Posts: 139
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2023 1:22 pm

Climate Bond Initiative

Post by Colleen Pate »

Council Members:

I’m frequently asked about addressing climate change. Those questions have increased in the past few days, so I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been telling people.

This important historic issue is one of my top priorities. I also believe every member of this City Council sees it as such.

My goal for Austin and for the City Council is the creation of a climate program that delivers meaningful, demonstrable, true results for Austinites. My hope is that it will be a model and the country’s leading example of best practices and approaches. Importantly, I believe it should also be a model for how we create the program itself. The way we create the program will impact the outcomes. It will also enhance or degrade trust and confidence in our climate efforts.

I agree with Austin Outside’s recent request that we be thoughtful, deliberative, and thorough, including taking the appropriate amount of time, as we consider a bond election related to climate. A bond election is likely a necessary part of achieving a model climate program. A bond election, however, should be one part of an overall climate program that will necessarily combine multiple tools and include other actions and expenditures, for example, from our utilities. How the various parts of an overall program interact is fundamental. This interaction must be considered from the start, and it must be a part of any decision regarding when and what we do with a bond initiative.

In any event, and without question, a climate bond initiative, even standing alone, must be appropriately conceived, well-reasoned, complete, and inclusive.

The Council has discussed a possible climate bond initiative one time--at a work session on May 28th. As a Council, we didn’t give specific direction to the Manager regarding what to bring back as a potential bond proposal. We didn’t identify priorities. We really couldn’t have done so. There was—and is still--insufficient deliberation and information.

In fact, we appropriately asked the Manager and his professional staff numerous questions, and we responsibly requested means for making professional, thoughtful decisions. The Manager’s team has been working on answers and approaches. This is a complex issue, and staff deserves time to address it well.

Anything the Manager’s office would bring to us at this point would be piecemeal and lack the rigor we should want. Even if we decided to just put one thing on a ballot this November, such as land acquisition, we would be doing so without staff being able to answer many of the questions raised at the work session and raised by many constituents who care deeply about this issue and how best to address it.

We’ve also been briefed regarding the best financial practices we should follow related to bonding generally and our city’s comprehensive bond program. We should not ignore the requests and admonitions of those briefings.

We must take a methodical approach to a model climate program for Austin, including a climate bond election as one component. I think such an election should occur no later than November of 2026. Our professional staff will continue the hard work it’s started to assure a robust product Austin will benefit from and Austin can be proud of. We will not do justice to this incredible, important issue or to the people relying on us to get it right if we rush to have an election this November.

Thanks for your service and for your commitment to Austin.

Kirk

On behalf of Mayor Watson
Chief of Staff, Mayor Watson's Office
Leslie Pool
Posts: 236
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:22 pm

Re: Climate Bond Initiative

Post by Leslie Pool »

Thanks, Mayor. I agree with the concerns you, Austin Outside, and many others I’ve talked with are expressing around the wisdom of galloping forward to place a large dollar proposition on the November 2024 ballot without having engaged in the necessary and careful assessment our fiduciary duties require of us in these matters. And I agree with you that such an election should occur no later than November 2026.

The Council does no favors to anyone without properly assessing the work in front of us. We have no second chances these days to get things right. And Austin’s future deserves our focused attention on doing things right.

I had over the years the signal honor to be appointed to two Travis County and one City of Austin Citizen Bond Election Advisory committees. I enjoyed the wonky, detailed work involved in measuring readiness and capacity from various key perspectives, like financial, engineering, technical, environmental. The work took time; and with that grace of time we built solid support throughout the city for viable projects, working to pass the proposals handily. The good results meant our taxpayers would enjoy significant and long-lasting improvements to our infrastructure. This element of community involvement continues to be missing in current discussions and that raises a red flag for me, as it should all of us.

I invite the dais to join me in creating and supporting an appropriate process that includes allowing the time for our professional staff to report back to us with answers to the many questions we have already asked of them. This will increase assurances that we are on a path to good outcomes.

Thanks.

Leslie
Leslie Pool
Mayor Pro Tem
Council Member, District 7
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