Voters Approve Hays County Parks Bond

Terra Rivers | Managing Editor

The polls are closed, and the preliminary results are in. The Hays County Parks Bond, Proposition A, was approved on Tuesday, Nov. 3, by 69.54% of voters.

Over 71,000 people voted for the proposition, which aims to provide funding for the creation of new parks, the protection of open spaces, and the perseveration of natural areas within Hays County.

The Hays County Commissioners Court approved calling for a $75 Million bond election in August.

The measure will protect and conserve the county’s unique natural landscapes, provide flood mitigation and stormwater management, protect water quality, and improve endangered species habitats.

The Hays County Parks and Open Space Advisory Commission (POSAC) provided commissioners recommendations on priority projects and options to help fund them.

Between May and mid-July, 18 projects were submitted by municipalities, nonprofit organizations, and land trusts working with landowners.

Several Hays County projects were also submitted. POSAC subcommittees evaluated and scored each project, ultimately recommending 16 projects for some funding level to the Commissioner’s Court on July 28.

The bond initiative includes goals for grant and donations matches to help fund projects, including those identified as priorities:

  • Coleman’s Canyon Preserve
    • Funds Requested: $2.6 Million
    • Property already owned by Wimberley Watershed.
  • Sentinel Peak Park & Preserve (El Rancho Cima)
    • Funds Requested: $10 Million
    • Potential for up to $6 Million from the TWDB Clean Water State Revolving Fund if the county is approved.
  • San Marcos River Recharge Lands
    • Funds Requested: ~ $3.4 Million to $4.3 Million
    • Potential $782,450 from SMRF & San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance
  • 1,200 Acre Regional Park
    • Funds Requested: $10 Million
    • The city of Austin to pay the value attributable to the conservation easement: $10 Million to $11 Million, providing at least a 1:1 Match.
  • Hays County Habitat, Open Space & Clean Waters Preserve (Purgatory Creek Area)
    • Funds Requested: ~ $17.7 Million
    • Potential for TWDB Clean Water State Resolving Fund low-interest loan
  • Rathgeber Natural Resources Park
    • Funds Requested: $7.5 Million
    • Land estimated at $3,750,000 to $5,250,000. Plus City of Dripping Springs additional $110,000 to $175,000 for planning, public input, preliminary engineering, and environmental studies
  • Violet Crown Trail in Hays County
    • Funds Requested: $3.8 Million.
    • TPWD trails Program, $200,000, HCC Grant $500,000.
  • Cape’s Fishing Pond (Hays County)
    • Funds Requested: $2.5 Million
    • County purchased the land in March 2020 for $2.6 Million.

The full list of projects considered by POSAC and their funding amount requested for them can be viewed here.

To view the details on each project, check out the commission’s presentation to the court here.

“This may seem like an unlikely time for a bond election, but Hays taxpayers and voters deserve to have their say on this important decision,” said Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra. “We have great projects and opportunities in front of us right now and will likely have historic voter turnout in November. So yes, let the people speak.”

Hays County Commissioners will determine when the bond and how much of them should be issued over the following years.

The results aren’t official until they’ve been canvassed and approved by the Commissioners Court.

“With this new bond, we are likely to be able to keep a county tax rate stable, so that it’s not a burden on folks,” Scott Way, POSAC Chair said, “But then expand the overall parks and open space for everyone within the community.”

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