For the first time in its history, the Austin Technology Council has gotten involved in local politics.
On Monday the tech group came out in support of Mayor Steve Adler's $720 million bond proposal that includes $500 million for upgrades to specific heavily trafficked thoroughfares.
The Austin Technology Council represents the tech and life sciences industries in Austin. The Austin Chamber and the Real Estate Council of Austin joined them in supporting the bond.
In a written statement, the groups said the proposal will offer better connections throughout the city and "enhanced mobility," in addition to improvements to major arterial road improvements.
"Provided the bond will be used for projects that will make a meaningful impact on alleviating congestion, we support a bond package for the full $720 million of funding," the groups said.
Barbary Brunner, the president of the Austin Technology Council, said they decided to wade into this political issue because it impacts recruitment efforts of local tech firms.
"We hear a lot of conversation about how traffic congestion and commute times plays a fairly substantial role in people deciding where they are going to go to work," Brunner said.
Brunner, who was hired to run ATC this year after the last president stepped down, said they polled the council's board to determine whether to endorse Adler's proposal.
"We're endorsing the principal of creating mobility and transportation solutions in order to make us a more livable city and have a higher quality of life," Brunner said.
The proposal would upgrade several major Austin roads, such as Lamar Boulevard, Burnet Road, Guadalupe Street and Riverside Drive by adding turn lanes, "smart traffic signals and protected bike paths. Adler's pitch also involves freeing up funds to pay for improvements to Interstate 35.
If the City Council backs the plan, a vote is expected in November.
The $720 million package could raise the city's property tax rate by 2 cents per $100 in appraised value, costing someone with a $250,000 home an extra $50 a year, according to city documents.
The last time the City Council supported a major bond transportation proposal it was in November 2014. The $1 billion plan paid for a 9.5-mile starter light rail, and some road and highway improvements. But voters rejected that idea amid concerns about the additional tax burden and the location of the rail line.
The Austin Technology Council has 280 member companies that represent a workforce of over 60,000 people. Some of its better-known members include Google, HomeAway and Samsung. It started out as the Austin Software Council in 1992, but changed its name in 2002.
Not included on ATC's members list are local employers such as Dell or Advanced Micro Devices.
News on Open Source is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of 512tech.com comes with an American-Statesman digital subscription, which also includes myStatesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe at statesman.com/subscribe.