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Austin Mayor Wants To Postpone Urban Rail Bond Election

Updated: Friday, June 1 2012, 05:38 PM CDT

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell says he wants to postpone a huge bond election this November for an urban rail system.

In a statement published on his website Friday, the mayor said there's just not enough time to resolve planning and funding issues in the upcoming months.

“It's become increasingly clear to me that some critical components of a successful system remain, at this point, uncomfortably uncertain,” Leffingwell said in the statement. “In my view, we do not yet have a sufficient level of certainty regarding a plan to fund and manage operations and maintenance of an urban rail system.  We also do not yet have the degree of certainty that I would like to see as it relates to a prospective federal funding match for construction costs, which is a fundamental need.”

The initial investment in urban rail would cost $275 million, and with an increase in electric rates for Austinities on the horizon, and with the city’s annual budget process about to begin, which based on current projections would require either a tax rate increase or spending cuts, Leffingwell says, “the potential for financial strain on Austin taxpayers is deeply worrisome to me.”

He says he wants to keep the 2012 City of Austin bond package to a figure that will not require a tax increase. That would be about $400 million, according to his statement.

But the mayor, who’s worked to bring urban rail to a vote for more than three years, says he's still committed to the system in Austin.

He says it's still possible to build one by 2021, if the city can limit tax increases now and increase the level of certainty and consensus surrounding the rail proposal.Austin Mayor Wants To Postpone Urban Rail Bond Election

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