Around Texas, voters OK bonds for animal shelter, roads and parks, medical examiner’s facilities

In Uvalde, Cody Smith beat Kimberly Mata-Rubio in race to be the next mayor.

By The Texas NewsroomNovember 8, 2023 9:46 am,

It’s the day after Election Day, and nearly all of the 14 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution were approved by voters.

That means a pension boost for retired teachers, infrastructure funds for water, energy and parks projects, and a higher homestead exemption for Texas homeowners.

Besides these big, statewide propositions, there were also many important local measures decided Tuesday. We checked in with public radio reporters across the state to see how some of those closer-to-home ballot items panned out.

Collin County OKs bond to expand animal shelter

Collin County voters approved a bond proposition on Tuesday to expand the county’s animal shelter.

Animal advocates in the area had pushed for the almost $6 million bond proposition, which will double the shelter’s size.

Marla Fields from Frisco’s Pet Project said the added space will be a relief to the county’s shelter, which has been overcrowded for at least a decade – but that it still may not be enough to end the overcrowding problem.

“Adding an additional 10,000 square feet to Collin County Animal Services, I’m afraid, is just a Band-Aid,” she said.

Construction on the shelter’s expansion is expected to finish in 2027.

Collin County voters also approved four other bond propositions, totaling more than $680 million dollars. A huge chunk of it is going toward improving county roads that are being overloaded by the region’s exploding population.

– Caroline Love, KERA News

Travis County passes record bond package for roads and parks

In Austin, voters overwhelmingly supported the largest bond package in Travis County history – more than $509 million.

Proposition A allocates more than $233 million for road projects; Proposition B allows the county to spend another $276 million on park improvements and to buy land for future parks.

Travis County Judge Andy Brown said this “yes” vote comes at a critical time of growth in Central Texas.

“Prices of land are only going up in Travis County, it’s only going to get more and more scarce,” he said. “And so, our ability to continue doing what Travis County has done over the years of preserving green spaces for parks and places for people to walk around and enjoy nature – without the voters of Travis County approving this bond, we wouldn’t have been able to do that.”

The average Travis County homeowner will pay about $5 more a month – or $60 more a year – on their tax bill.

– Luz Moreno-Lozano, KUT

Lubbock voters approve bond for medical examiner’s facilities

Since 2019, Lubbock County has contracted out autopsy services to Tarrant County, nearly 300 miles away. That started after a slew of controversies: Mismanagement and backlogged cases led to investigations by the FBI and the Texas Rangers, which brought local autopsy services to a halt.

Now that voters have approved a $35.5 million bond, officials will coordinate with contractors to start construction on medical examination facilities, which will bring autopsy services back to Lubbock.

County Judge Curtis Parrish said the new facilities could help turn the county’s tarnished reputation around.

“We’re building a facility that will handle the needs of Lubbock County – not just today, but for the next 30 years,” he told Lubbock news station KCBD.

It’ll also provide a learning space for medical students and resources for emergency teams in the event of disasters.

Parrish called the facility a “shovel-ready project.” Construction’s intended to finish by early 2026.

– Brad Burt, Texas Tech Public Media

Uvalde elects former mayor Cody Smith as its next leader

Cody Smith will fill the remaining year in former Mayor Don McLaughlin’s term. McLaughlin stepped down this summer to focus on his run for a Texas House seat.

This was a closely watched election because Smith’s opponent for mayor was Kimberly Mata-Rubio, whose daughter, Lexi Rubio, was one of 19 children killed in the Robb Elementary School shooting last year.

Smith received 1,667 votes, while Mata-Rubio received 837. Smith and his son gathered with enthusiastic supporters after the win.

“I’m just very honored to be elected mayor again,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to representing this entire community.”

Mata-Rubio expressed disappointment but said she would continue fighting in honor of Lexi.

“I am excited about the momentum we have,” she said. “Not just here in this town, but as a country we’re paying attention.”

Smith is taking over at an important moment: Investigations into the failed law enforcement response to the Robb Elementary shooting are almost complete.

– Kayla Padilla, Texas Public Radio