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CIVIC FAQ

Here you will find answers to some commonly asked questions.

How Do I…?

How do I search for projects based on Bond Program?

Navigate to the CIVIC Map Viewer and click on the blue “Filters” button located at the top left of the page. Then click on “Funding” and select the proposition(s) for each Bond Program for which you are interested in viewing data.

How do I search for projects by Department?

Navigate to the CIVIC Map Viewer and click on the blue “Filters” button located at the top left of the page. Then click on “Department” and select the proposition(s) for each Bond Program for which you are interested in viewing data.

How do I find the right person to contact for project questions?

Any questions related to a specific capital improvement projects should be directed to the Project Manager and email is the preferred method of communication. Once you selected filter options on the CIVIC Map Viewer, you will see project names on the left hand-side of the screen. Find the name of the project you are interested in and either: (1) Select “Show More” where you will find the name and contact information for the Project Manager or (2) click on the project name to be directed to a details page identifying the name and contact information for the Project Manager.

How do I contact City Staff with feedback regarding CIVIC?

Send us a message about any technical issues, questions, or to make suggestions for enhancements to the site on the Contact Us page. Please include your name, email address where you would like to be reached and City Staff will contact you.

How do I view information for projects that are not funded by the 2013, 2012, 2010, 2006 or earlier bond programs?

What you are viewing is the first phase of CIVIC. Future phases will include additional mapped projects funded through other sources. In the meantime, visit the Reports section for more information about key project and program, including summary information about current and planned capital spending for all CIP program areas.

Why can’t I view Bond Program 2012 - Proposition 13 projects on the CIVIC Map Viewer?

In November 2012, City of Austin voter’s approved Bond Proposition 13, allocating $30,000,000 for the City to purchase land in the Barton Springs Watershed contributing and recharge zones for water quality protection.

Information for projects that may include the acquisition of land or real estate acquisition are not shown on CIVIC until after the City has finalized the purchase. The CIVIC Map Viewer will be updated to included Proposition 13 projects after the funds are spent and the projects are complete.

What Internet browser is best for viewing CIVIC?

The latest versions of Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer are the best internet browsers for viewing this site. We are testing other browsers to ensure all users have an optimal experience. While you can use any browser of your choice, please be aware that pages render differently in different browsers and browser versions.


General Obligation (GO) Bond Program

What is a general obligation bond?

The City funds its Capital Improvements Program in several ways. One way is through voter-approved general obligation (GO) bonds. GO bonds give cities a financial tool to borrow funds for capital improvement projects that will serve the community- such as buildings, roads, bridges, bikeways, urban trails and parks.

Bond debt can be compared to a home mortgage that is repaid over time. Like buying a house, major capital improvement projects, such as park or library improvements, have a long useful life, so their cost is spread out over many years and paid for by current and future citizens who use them. Bonds are typically repaid over a 20-year period. After extensive planning, including project review, coordination and prioritization, the City Council will vote to call for a bond election; the bond propositions describe the categories of improvements desired as well as the amount of debt the city is requesting its citizen approve to fund these improvements.

When voters approve a bond proposition, they are authorizing the City to issue GO bonds which are backed by the full faith and credit of the City of Austin. This means the City is obligated to pay back the bonds by pledging its ad valorem taxing power, or in other words its ability to collect property taxes, to repay the debt.

The property tax rate is composed of two parts: the Operations and Maintenance rate (O&M) and the debt service rate. The debt service rate is set in order to generate the revenue necessary to make the City’s payments for tax-supported debt. The Fiscal Year 2013-14 debt service rate is 11.71 cents and the O&M rate is 38.56 cents for every $100 of assessed property value, for a total tax rate of 50.27 cents.

What general obligation bonds have Austin voters authorized?

Austin voters have approved several different general obligation bond programs over the years. Below are the five most recent programs:

  • In 2012, voters authorized the City to issue $306,648,000 in bond funds for transportation and mobility; open space and watershed protection; parks and recreation; public safety; health and human services; and library, museum and cultural facility projects.
  • In 2010, voters authorized the City to issue $90,000,000 in bonds to fund transportation and mobility projects.
  • In 2006, voters authorized the City to issue $567,400,000 in bonds to fund transportation, drainage and open space, parks, cultural facilities, affordable housing, the central library and public safety facilities.
  • In 2000, voters authorized the City to issue $163,400,000 in bonds to fund transportation and open space projects.
  • In 1998, voters authorized the City to issue $339,740,000 in bonds to fund transportation, parks, public safety, libraries and cultural facilities, and drainage projects.

Why does the City have multiple general obligation bond programs that are currently active?

Voter-approved general obligation bond programs typically overlap because capital improvement projects can take several years to complete from design through construction and thus bond programs can remain active for several years. Capital improvement projects arise on a continual basis, so bond elections may occur before the completion of a previous bond program to ensure continuous project delivery and to ensure the City of Austin provides the best possible infrastructure assets and services to citizens.

Is there a board or commission that oversees the City’s general obligation bond programs?

City Council appointed a citizen Bond Oversight Committee to review the annual allocation of funds and spending plans for the 2006, 2010 and 2012 bond programs as well as future bond programs. The committee is responsible for helping ensure efficiency, equity, timeliness and accountability in the implementation of voter-approved bond programs.


Capital Improvement Project Information

What is "Appropriation to Date"?

City Council approves the appropriation of funds, which gives staff the legal authority to expend the funds for a specific purpose. Appropriated funds are not the same as the project’s budget. City Council may approve multiple installments of funding throughout the project’s phases. .

What is a capital improvement project?

The City of Austin regularly undertakes projects to improve City facilities and infrastructure assets, such as roads, water, electricity or parks. These are called capital improvement projects. The main difference between a capital improvement project and a maintenance project is how much the project costs and how long the improvement or new construction is intended to last.

What is Current Project Status?

Project status indicates a project’s position in its life-cycle, from inception through completion. A project can have one of 5 statuses; Anticipated, Active, Cancelled, Hold or Complete.

  1. Anticipated - The project has been identified and prioritized during the Capital Planning Process. The project may or may not have received funding and has not begun preliminary planning activities.
  2. Active – The project has received funding and is in one of 5 project phases: (1) Preliminary, (2) Design, (3) Bid, Award and Execution, (4) Construction, and (5) Post-Construction.
  3. Cancelled – The project has been cancelled and is no longer moving forward. If the improvement is requested or moves forward at a later date, a new project is created.
  4. Hold – The project is on-hold and any planning or coordination activities are suspended. Once planning and coordination resumes, a project becomes Active.
  5. Complete – The project is complete once the asset or service is available for public-use and all post-construction activities, such as inspection, are complete. A completed project may remain open while project management and documentation are finalized.

What is the Project Sponsor Department?

The Project Sponsor Department recommends and advances a project through the City’s Capital Improvements Program process and assists in developing the project’s scope, schedule and budget.

What is the Project Managing Department

The Managing Department indicates the department to which the Project Manager is assigned.

What is the Financial Sponsor Department?

The Financial Sponsor Department is any department that contributes funds towards the cost of the project. Projects can have one or more Financial Sponsor Departments.

Who is the Project Manager?

The Project Manager is responsible for planning, executing, and completing the project.

What is Category?

The category is a high level indication of the central focus of the project. For example, a street reconstruction project may include water/wastewater line replacement; however, the main purpose of the project is street reconstruction.

What is ID?

The project ID is the number, or unique identifier, assigned to the project.

Which months are in each fiscal quarter?

  • Quarter 1 is from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31
  • Quarter 2 is from Jan. 1 to March 31
  • Quarter 3 from April 1 to June 30
  • Quarter 4 is from July 1 to Sept. 30

Why are some projects funded by multiple GO bond programs?

Capital improvement projects vary widely, so some may require planning prior to construction, and others may be completed in a shorter timeframe. In some cases, a voter-approved bond program is intended to pay for one or two phase of a project, such as preliminary engineering or design, rather than the entire project from start to finish. In other cases, by allocating funding to the early phases of a project, it enables the project to potentially leverage funding through grants or partnerships.

What are the different phases of a project?

The typical capital infrastructure project undergoes the phases listed below.

Preliminary: May include but not limited to: initial project planning such as scoping, feasibility, funding allocation, preliminary reports, a preliminary schedule and preliminary cost estimates. This phase ends with the effective date of the "notice to proceed with design" letter.

Design: Includes zoning, land acquisition, architectural design, civil engineering, utility coordination as well as permitting and preparation of bid documents. This phase ends with the first advertisement for construction bids.

Bid/Award/Execution: Includes project advertisement, requesting submissions from contractors and vendors, and bid certification and evaluation of minority- and women-owned business enterprise plan compliance. The phase ends when a contract is approved by City Council and is executed, and the selected contractor is authorized to begin work.

Construction: May include the actual construction or renovation of buildings or other infrastructure such as streets, utilities and parks. Construction may also refer to the execution or implementation phase of projects that do not include construction such as the implementation of technology projects. This phase ends with the effective date of the letter of substantial or final acceptance.

Post Construction: Includes the construction warranty, completion of final record drawings and project close out. This phase normally concludes with the warranty release but may be extended due to litigation or other circumstances. Additionally, some projects may have multiple warranties or warranties that extend beyond one year.

Why do some projects have multiple phases at the same time or no phase at all?

Some projects included in the CIVIC Map Viewer are ongoing programs, such as citywide traffic signal modifications and upgrades as well as sidewalk improvements, and may have multiple locations at various phases in the delivery process. Some capital improvement projects are also delivered through a design-build method, in which one entity provides design and construction services, so the project may not have a sequential phase.

Some projects included in the CIVIC Map Viewer do not have a phase. This may be because the project is not a traditional infrastructure project though it is still a capital improvement project. An example of these types of projects are the purchase of fleet vehicles or IT systems.