Roadfood: How we feed the Transportation beast


If you were to ask residents what leaves a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to local issues, traffic would certainly be the most common response. We get it. We drive in it, too. The good news is we have a veritable smorgasbord of resources to address this vexing problem. Mix them all together and it amounts to $53 million on the menu for transportation spending next year. That’s a lot of dough.

The most plentiful ingredient is the half-cent sales tax Round Rock voters approved in 1997 to fund transportation improvements. That half-cent is projected to generate $17.3 million in Fiscal 2018. And we leverage those dollars with cheddar from partners like Williamson County and the Texas Department of Transportation, as well as bond debt, to get as much mileage as possible from that vital funding source.

To wit: Last year, we had $625 million worth of completed and planned transportation projects since the half-cent sales tax went into effect. About a third of that — $263 million, to measure it precisely — was funded by the Type B corporation that administers the half cent sales tax.

We’re not saying that’s a water into wine miracle. We’re saying we’ve got some resourceful chefs in the kitchen.

While on the subject of sales taxes, know that some of the 1 cent sales tax revenue that funds general government services also gets tossed into the transportation funding pot. In years when revenues exceed projections, we sock that money away in a larder we call the General Self Financed Construction fund. A heaping helping from that fund has been critical to beefing up our street maintenance program in recent years.

Side dish: Generating more sales tax revenue is one we reason we promote tourism with our Sports Capital of Texas tourism program. Visit old budget video friend Ron Pitchman for a brief (less than two minutes) explanation of the benefits of tourism to funding local government.

Your property taxes, by contrast, don’t come close to matching the $17.3 million the Type B corp will collect next fiscal year. The Transportation Services Department draft budget is $12.4 million. Property taxes cover about a third of that — around $3.7 million.

But let’s get to the meat of the issue: What projects are on the menu for FY 18 funding? Here’s a sampling:

ProjectAmountFunding Source(s)
University Boulevard widening$8.6 millionType B sales tax, Williamson County
Neighborhood street maintenance$7.5 millionStreets Budget, General Self Finance Construction
East Bagdad Ave/McNeil Road extension downtown$3.6 millionType B sales tax
Southwest Downtown improvements$3.3 millionType B sales tax, federal and state grant funds
Gattis School Road widening (engineering/design only)$2.2 millionType B sales tax

Hungry for more? Here’s where you can find the list of our current transportation projects, including those we’re working on with regional partners.

Still not full? Dig into the complete list of projects — there are 28 total — funding sources and totals in our proposed five-year Transportation Capital Improvements Plan.

Got room for dessert? Here’s a map showing the streets scheduled for maintenance next fiscal year.

For our next Budget Bite, we’ll slice and dice the ingredients that go into making up the proposed tax rate.