Before heading to the polls to vote, Hays County invites voters to learn more about Proposition A – the 2020 Parks and Open Spaces Bond – on the ballot this year. Voters can see the bond language, view a story map of the projects and see answers to frequently asked questions.
“The website is organized to inform and educate voters about the bond so they can understand what they are voting on at the polls,” said Alexandra Thompson, the County’s Natural Resources Coordinator, who created the story map on the website.
She said a story map can help visually explain the projects that could be funded if voters approve the bond, which would fund roughly $75 million for new parks, trails and open spaces over the next several years. Hays County submitted two proposals to be included in the bond; Sentinel Peak Preserve and Cape Road Fishing Pond.
Hays County General Counsel Mark Kennedy said the website also has the specific bond language, in English and Spanish, that voters will see on their ballots.
“Being familiar with what is on a bond is important,” he said. “If you haven’t seen the information ahead of time, bond language can be a little overwhelming.”
Hays County Proposition A would potentially fund, either wholly or partially, approximately 15 projects that were vetted by the Parks and Open Spaces Commission (POSAC) earlier this year. The group was comprised of appointees by each member of Hays County Commissioners Court.
“POSAC reviewed 19 submitted projects and recommended funding of 16 over several budget cycles,” Kennedy said. “Each project on the story map indicates the types of features that would result, including public access, camping opportunities, ADA accessibility, and trails and river recreation,” Kennedy said. “Additionally, the story map indicates broader benefits of water quality protection, protection of sensitive, threatened or endangered species habitat, and flood mitigation.”
Commissioner Walt Smith said he understands why some voters might wonder at the logic of putting a $75 million bond on this year’s election ballot during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The pandemic has caused financial uncertainty in many ways,” he said, “but I believe the projects in this bond will allow our county to continue protecting and conserving land while offering benefits to the general public.”
He added that this ballot measure allows the county flexibility with the timing of bond issuance, meaning the county is not obligated to spend money right away.
“If voters approve the bond,” Smith said, “Commissioners Court will proceed with caution and on a timeline that allows us to assess our financial situation.”
Kennedy added that a voter-approved bond is merely the mechanism that allows the county to issue the funding but that we have several years until the contract with the voters must be fulfilled.
Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra said, “I fully support the flood mitigation and conservation projects included in Prop A to protect our natural resources and our residents from the ever-present danger of flooding. I will work to ensure the projects funded benefit all Hays County residents.”
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