Boughton: 2007 vote for flood mitigation is making a difference

Published 10:15 am Wednesday, October 2, 2013

By Roger Boughton

Austin City Council

I think most of us wonder on occasion what happens after we vote and pass a tax. Is the money wisely used? Is the money spent on what it was intended for when voted and approved by the citizens? In the year 2007 the citizens of Austin passed a .5 cent sales tax to ensure that the community would no longer be devastated by floods. We have had significantly damaging floods in the past 30 years with lots of damage to homes and the community. If approved by the citizens of Austin the funds were to be used only for flood mitigation for the next 20 years. Funds were to purchase homes in the flood designated areas, build berms to protect property and to provide walls for protection of water entering businesses, basements and homes. More than 300 homes have been purchased in the past and removed from the flood plain. The community was generous and supportive by passing the .5 cent tax, and as a result about $100,000 in tax collections has flooded into the community each month since 2007. The money has not all come from Austin taxpayers. A good portion of the money has come from visitors to the community who spend their money buying groceries, gas, and food at restaurants or staying at a local motel.

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The local sales tax money collected that you voted for in 2007 has allowed the community to leverage the sale tax dollars to bring in additional grants from both the federal and state government. Thus, the additional money received through grants has accelerated the flood mitigation projects and it is estimated that the majority of the flood projects will be completed by early 2020s and not 2027 as originally intended. Those flood waters that have the potential of causing millions of dollars in damage and disruption will no longer have a stranglehold on the community of Austin. Your vote in 2007 has already made a significant difference for the community. Several of the projects are completed and protecting present day property.

You will see in early 2014 work on North Main where the road will be raised, a wall built to hold back the flood waters and a berm built in back of the Packaging Company and Olivia’s Restaurant to Interstate 90. The year 2014 will also see work being aggressively done along Turtle Creek and residents will begin to feel comfort in knowing that soon their property will be protected.

The community effort to solve the flood problems impacting the city of Austin is a demonstration of the neighbors working together with the city to eliminate a long standing problem that impacted the entire community. Taxes do make a difference.