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Hays 2020 Parks Bond

In the November 2020 election, Hays County voters will decide on Proposition A, which is whether to fund a $75 million parks and open spaces bond. This website provides information about the bond language on the ballot, the projects that would be funded and information on elections.

Posted October 12, 2020

The documents below are related to the Hays County Parks and Open Spaces Bond on the November 3, 2020, Election Ballot in Hays County, Texas

Order of the Hays County 2020 Parks Bond Election

Order In English

Orden en espanol

Notice calling for Bond

Notice in English

Aviso en espanol

Proposition

Hays County November 2020 Parks Bond Election – Proposition

Elección de bonos de parques del condado de Hays

Sample Ballots

Sample ballots for Hays County

Boletas de muestra en español para el condado de Hays

Voter Information

Voter Information Document

Documento de información al votante

Vote Centers in Hays County

Vote-Centers

Lugares de votación

Affidavit of Posting

Facts about the Hays County 2020 Parks Bond

Voters will have the opportunity to approve or not approve the bond, which if passed, will help fund approximately 15 parks, trails and open spaces over the next 10 years in Hays County. The projects were solicited in the spring of 2020 and reviewed by a Hays County Commissioner-appointed group, the Parks and Open Spaces Advisory Commission.

Qualifying Project Criteria

The identified projects associated with Proposition A on the November 3, 2020 ballot in Hays County represent recommendations of the Hays County Parks and Open Space Advisory Commission (“POSAC”). If Proposition A is approved, Hays County will attempt to negotiate agreements and/or real estate transactions that determine qualification for each of the projects to receive bond funding.

These qualifications are:

  • Hays County is able to secure sufficient control of the project site to ensure prudent use of funds for the benefit of the public;

  • Hays County is  able to secure sufficient public access to the project site, or a portion thereof, to ensure public enjoyment;

  • Hays County is able to secure a match of funds or in-kind value that satisfies the overall program goals of 1:1 match or better.

If a recommended project or future project does not meet the above criteria, bond monies will be deemed an inappropriate source of funding.

Below are the projects that were recommended for some level of funding through the bond, should it be approved by Hays County voters. The POSAC offered its recommendations using a priority list with Tier One (“very best”; highly recommend to fund at some level)  and Tier Two (“very good”; strong recommendation to fund at some level) projects.

The amounts requested are not what would be funded by the bond; the total amount of the bond would be $75 million.


 

TIER ONE PROJECTS

Open Space/Natural Areas/Trails/Water Quality/Habitat 

1. Coleman’s Canyon Preserve (WVWA)

2. Sentinel Peak Park & Preserve (Hays County)

3. San Marcos River Recharge Lands (SMRF)

4. Purgatory Creek: habitat, clean water preserve (HCC)

5. Rathgeber Natural Resource Park (City of Dripping Springs)

Connectivity

6. Violet Crown Trail in Hays County (HCC)

7. Cape’s Fishing Pond (Hays County)

TIER TWO PROJECTS

Urban Parks

8. Dripping Springs Regional Skate Park (DS Skate Park, Inc.*)

9. Dripping Springs Town Center (City of Dripping Springs)

10. Patriot’s Hall, near Dripping Springs (PatriotsHall.org*)

11. Nature Center at Blue Hole Park (City of Wimberley)

Open Space/Natural Areas/Trails/Water Quality/Habitat

12. John Knox Ranch Preserve (John Knox Ranch/HCC)

13. Presa Grande, Sink Creek Watershed (Great Springs Project)

Connectivity

14. Old Fitzhugh Road Trail (City of Dripping Springs)

15. Park improvements, regional sports plex and festival grounds (City of Kyle)

*Nonprofit organization

Money Amounts for Projects

Bond amounts associated with an identified project on this site are a reflection of the POSAC recommendation for that project. If the project meets the criteria to qualify for funds, the Hays County Commissioners Court may spend up to or more than the funding amount associated with that project. The amount of funds dedicated to any project will depend on a number of factors, some of which have not been finally negotiated, including but not limited to the amount of matching funds or in-kind contribution, or the amount of guaranteed public access.

Regardless of how the County chooses to follow through with the POSAC recommendations, they are under legal obligation to spend the entire bond amount on parks and open space projects in Hays County.

 

blue box definition 1.png

 

 

Active recreation refers to a structured individual or team activity that requires the use of special facilities, courses, fields, or equipment.

 

blue box definition 2.png

 

Passive recreation refers to recreational activities that do not require prepared facilities like sports fields or pavilions. Passive recreational activities place minimal stress on a site’s resources; as a result, they can provide ecosystem service benefits and are highly compatible with natural resource protection.

Qualifying Project Criteria

The identified projects associated with Proposition A on the November 3, 2020 ballot in Hays County represent recommendations of the Hays County Parks and Open Space Advisory Commission (“POSAC”). If Proposition A is approved, Hays County will attempt to negotiate agreements and/or real estate transactions that determine qualification for each of the projects to receive bond funding.

These qualifications are:

  • Hays County is able to secure sufficient control of the project site to ensure prudent use of funds for the benefit of the public;

  • Hays County is  able to secure sufficient public access to the project site, or a portion thereof, to ensure public enjoyment;

  • Hays County is able to secure a match of funds or in-kind value that satisfies the overall program goals of 1:1 match or better.

If a recommended project or future project does not meet the above criteria, bond monies will be deemed an inappropriate source of funding.

News Release #1:  

Read the first news release here.

News Release #2:

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.”

You can also find information on the County’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Click the button below to view the story maps.

Story Maps

Get educated on terminology and concepts

Watch this video with environmental expert and Hays County resident Carolyn Vogel. She discusses conservation easements and environmental protections.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijVHvweLR7Y&feature=emb_title

Learn more about issues.

What is watershed management and how can water quality protection impact our environment? Hear from local expert Mike Personett.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4u7hesKiP0&feature=emb_title

Additional Resources

Use the links on the right to learn more. Note: clicking on these links will take you to web pages outside of the hays2020parksbond.com website. Hays County does not endorse the sites or their content, but is presenting them as possible sources of information.

 

Conservation Easements

Information by the Hill Country Alliance

https://www.hillcountryalliance.org/ConservationEasements

Conservation Easements and Working with Land Trusts

Information by the Hill Country Alliance

https://www.hillcountryalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/THC_Conservation-Easements_7.pdf

CONSERVATION EASEMENTS A Guide for Texas Landowners

Information by the Texas Land Trust Council

https://texaslandtrustcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/CEguidebook_2018_small.pdf

Soil and Water Conservation

Information by the LandCAN

https://www.landcan.org/local-resources/Hays-County-SWCD/5836

Exploring Watersheds

Information by Tarrant Regional Water District

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-4bXF3vbVo&feature=youtu.be

A Vision for the Texas Hill Country

Information by Defenders of Wildlife

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5tJZDdJeis&feature=youtu.be

Get answers to your questions

Want to better understand the Hays 2020 Parks Bond? See the answers to Frequently Asked Questions below:

Why is Hays County Calling for a Bond Election?

The Hays County Commissioners Court approved an Order of Bond Election on August 11, 2020. Some members of the Court stated a belief that the bond is an investment in the Hays County community and, in particular, a long-term investment in the preservation of open spaces for conservation and future enjoyment. For full coverage of the Court’s discussion, click HERE.

What Exactly is Included in the Proposed Bond?

If voters pass Proposition A in November, they will give permission to Hays County to sell general obligation bonds to fund projects related to parks and open spaces, connectivity, water quality and flood mitigation.

How Did the County Determine the Scope and Amount of the Bond Package?

In Spring of 2020, the Hays County Commissioners Court created the Parks and Open Space Advisory Commission (POSAC). POSAC’s charter called for it to consider prospective parks and open space projects around Hays County. POSAC put out a call for project submissions then reviewed and made recommendations on 19 projects around the county. While POSAC recommended not moving forward on three of those, it recommended partial or full funding of the requests made on the other 16 projects. It is assumed that the funds requested for those projects would be matched by funding or in-kind contributions from third parties (e.g. other public or private entities).

How Would the Proposed Bond Package Impact Property Taxes for Hays County Residents?

The Order of Bond Election approved by the Hays County Commissioners Court indicates that approval and issuance of the proposed bonds can be done without the necessity of raising the current tax rate (See Voter Information Document, Line 7).

Why is Hays County Proposing a Bond Package During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

The Hays County Commissioners Court had many discussions and a public hearing prior to approving the Order of Bond Election.

What Happens if the Bond Does Not Pass?

Hays County will not have the authority to issue general obligation bonds to fund the projects identified in Proposition.

If passed, on what can the bond money be spent?

The county would be under legal obligation to spend the entire bond amount on parks and open space projects in Hays County.

What is the One Main Thing Voters Should Know About the Proposed Bond Package?

The proposed bond package was achieved after the Hays County Commissioners Court considered the recommendations of a citizen’s commission (POSAC), appointed for that purpose.

Where Can I Learn More About the Hays County 2020 Bond Election?

To learn more about the proposed bond, visit hays2020parksbond.com. You can also find information on the County’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Money Amounts for Projects

Bond amounts associated with an identified project on this site are a reflection of the POSAC recommendation for that project. If the project meets the criteria to qualify for funds, the Hays County Commissioners Court may spend up to or more than the funding amount associated with that project. The amount of funds dedicated to any project will depend on a number of factors, some of which have not been finally negotiated, including but not limited to the amount of matching funds or in-kind contribution, or the amount of guaranteed public access.

What is the Hays County 2020 Parks Bond?

Hays County Commissioners Court, following a 4-1 decision, are allowing voters to determine whether the County will fund $75 million for new parks, trails and open spaces over the next several years. That bond would help provide funding for projects submitted by groups, organizations and municipalities earlier this year. Hays County submitted two proposals to be included in the bond; Sentinel Peak and Cape’s Pond.

The Parks and Open Spaces Commission (POSAC), with appointees by each member of Commissioners Court, reviewed 19 submitted projects and recommended funding of 16 over several budget cycles. One project has since been removed from consideration. Hays County Commissioners Court will allow new projects to be submitted and vetted in a similar fashion to those recommended by POSAC.

POSAC goals and priorities were found in the 2012 Hays County Parks, Open Space and Natural Areas MASTER PLAN.

Project Story Map

Learn more about each project on the bond, including location, and how the recommended projects will benefit Hays County residents. Use the button below to see the map.

Story Map

Sample Ballot Questions

Bond Language: English

The issuance of $75,000,000 of bonds for the purpose of constructing, improving, renovating, equipping and acquiring land and interests in land, buildings, and facilities for park and recreational purposes, including but not limited to constructing and improving parks and the acquisition of land and interests in land in connection therewith; acquiring open space and conservation land and acquiring conservation easements on land for any authorized purposes, including to ensure its availability for, recreational, or open-space use, or to protect wildlife habitat and water quality of creeks, rivers and springs; protecting natural resources by minimizing flood risks and improving flood safety; improving connectivity through the acquisition of land, construction and improvement of trails, sidewalks and related infrastructure; and the levying of a tax sufficient to pay the principal of and interest on the bonds.

Bond Language: Spanish

La emisión de $75,000,000 en bonos con el propósito de construir, mejorar, renovar, equipar y adquirir terrenos e intereses sobre terrenos, edificios e instalaciones para propósitos de parques y recreativos, incluyendo, sin limitaciones, construir y mejorar y adquirir terrenos e intereses sobre terrenos en relación con esto; adquirir áreas abiertas y terreno de conservación y adquirir servidumbres de conservación de terrenos para todos los propósitos autorizados, incluyendo asegurar su disponibilidad para uso recreativo o de áreas abiertas, o para proteger el hábitat de la fauna y la calidad de arroyos, ríos y cañadas; proteger los recursos naturales al minimizar los riesgos de inundación y mejorar la seguridad de inundaciones; mejorar la conectividad mediante la adquisición de terrenos, construcción y mejora de veredas, aceras e infraestructura relacionada; y la imposición de un impuesto suficiente para pagar el capital e interés de los bonos.

Categorical Language

The categorical language of Proposition A is meant to address four different, but often overlapping, project types:

1) Water Quality Protection and Flood Mitigation -This includes but is not limited to investment in water quality and water quantity of our aquifers via the establishment of conserved open spaces with limited, passive public access and conservation and improvement of park areas that also contribute (or, if developed, would contribute) to flooding of populated areas or the degradation of existing waterways within Hays County. A secondary benefit is conservation and improvement of areas that contribute (or, if developed, would contribute) to flooding of populated areas or the degradation of existing waterways within Hays County. This category of project will also qualify as one of the other categories of parkland and will feature some form of public access.

2) Urban Parks – which includes but is not limited to recreational facilities, courts, or fields, assembly areas for recreation and/or education, pocket parks, and the like;

3) Conservation and Open Space – this pertains to acquiring acreage to protect and conserve wildlife corridors; to protect rare, threatened and endangered species habitat; and protecting historical and cultural landscapes.

4) Connectivity – which includes but is not limited to hiking and biking trails, bridges over waterways, and connection to existing trail systems.

Any project may meet the goals of one or more of these categories, depending on the unique characteristics of that particular project.

Website Note

All of the content on this webpage was originally posted on a website created by Hays County to share information about the Hays County 2020 Parks Bond. It was housed on the web at this address: www.hays2020parksbond.com and was created using Square Space. Following passage of the bond in the Nov. 3, 2020 General Election, the website remained live through December 21, 2020. This website is a replication of the data that was found on the original site.

Hays County