Travis County May Stick Taxpayers With F1 Road Costs, Bill Oakey

This Tuesday, the Travis County Commissioners will vote on a major set of road expansion projects near the F1 racetrack.  This is Item #32 on the agenda, scheduled for 1:30.  This item would have the taxpayers pay 100% of the cost for the roads using certificates of obligation,without voter approval!  Below the agenda items, you will see a direct quote from the Circuit of the Americas from last year, offering to share the cost of the roads with Travis County.

You can review the agenda and the backup materials here:

Here is a breakdown of the F1 road projects, from Item 32:

Please email, Facebook, and Tweet this info to everyone on your list and ask them to do the same.  Ask them to come to:

Travis County Commissioners Court, 700 Lavaca Street, downtown

This Tuesday, at 1:30 PM

Last Year the COTA Entered Into Negotiations With Travis County to Share F1 Road Costs

In April of last year, the Circuit of the Americas offered to pay for the road improvements, and to seek a negotiated amount for reimbursement from Travis County.

Here is a direct quote from the COTA, from the Austin American-Statesman, dated April 5, 2012:

“We are proposing to start work on the road improvements now, with (Circuit of the Americas) paying the upfront expense. We are also proposing that Travis County would then provide COTA with a performance-based reimbursement for the county road improvements once they were complete. The percentage of reimbursement would be determined with county officials,” said Julie Loignon, a spokeswoman for the circuit.

From another Statesman article, dated Jan. 12, 2012:

“Both sides expect to work out a cost-sharing deal before long, but they say the project won’t be complete before the first race takes place Nov. 18.”  And from the same article,  ”Race organizers agree — begrudgingly, according to (F1 Attorney, Richard) Suttle — that the cost of the repair and widening of Elroy between McAngus and the track entrance should be split. The two sides diverge, however, on how much each side should pay.”

Memories have faded, the negotiations have been forgotten, the taxpayers get stuck!

Since last year those talks have been conveniently forgotten, and you and I, the taxpayers, may be stuck with the entire cost.  Judge Sam Biscoe opposes the item, and Commissioner Bruce Todd proposes a Stakeholder Committee to review cost options.  I could support Commissioner Todd’s very reasonable plan if there were no non-voter-apporved funding, and if he would simply add the cost-sharing negotiations with COTA.

Here is Commissioner Todd’s proposal:  (See more details in the agenda backup).

I propose that the specific objectives of the working group should be to create a comprehensive roadway implementation plan to achieve the following:

A recommendation to the Commissioners Court 6 weeks from the inception of the group to include, but not be limited to:

1. Best alignments for long-term regional and local benefits

2. Potential phasing to provide immediate and long-term congestion relief for area residents

3. Funding sources including the evaluation of motel-hotel taxes

4. Funding and funding partners evaluated on the basis of direct economic benefit based on participation on roadway improvements

5. Partner participation including City of Austin (End)

You can call or email the other three County Commissioners using the links below:

Commissioner Margaret Gomez: (512) 854-9444,

Commissioner Ron Davis: (512) 854-9111,

Commissioner Gerald Daugherty: (512) 854-9333,

2012 Austin American-Statesman Articles, Showing COTA’s Willingness to Share F1 Road Costs:

Updated: 11:37 p.m. Wednesday, May 16, 2012 | Posted: 10:37 p.m. Thursday, April 5, 2012

Circuit of the Americas seeks assistance from Travis County for roadwork


Circuit of the Americas officials are asking Travis County to pay for at least some new road construction in the vicinity of their $300 million racetrack and entertainment complex southeast of Austin.

The work would include widening Elroy Road to four lanes and the extension of little-used Kellam Road to Pearce Lane to create a new way to get to the track property.

“We are proposing to start work on the road improvements now, with (Circuit of the Americas) paying the upfront expense. We are also proposing that Travis County would then provide COTA with a performance-based reimbursement for the county road improvements once they were complete. The percentage of reimbursement would be determined with county officials,” said Julie Loignon, a spokeswoman for the circuit.

Travis County Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt said it isn’t clear exactly what the circuit is seeking and added, “This looks like a very ambitious business proposal that is having trouble meeting its financial obligation. And so they are looking to the county to subsidize a portion of their startup costs.”

The 3.4-mile circuit is scheduled to host its first Formula One Grand Prix on Nov. 18. That would be the first F1 race in the United States in five years, and it’s been estimated that as many as 120,000 fans could attend.

Travis County officials have previously expressed concern about transportation to and from the isolated site, saying traffic delays for that Sunday race could be as long as 12 hours. Circuit officials have not dismissed the potential problems but have estimated delays closer to three hours.

For months, the county and the circuit officials have debated who should pay — and how much they should pay — for an estimated $8 million in road improvements for the area.

The county has said that it would pay for resurfacing McAngus and Elroy roads. The work on McAngus has already begun. There is construction going on at Elroy Road, but according to Bill Farr at Cash Construction, that is for a 30-inch water line parallel to Elroy Road.

Farr said, however, that it might be possible for the work being done on the water line to be used as a base for widening Elroy Road.

Circuit officials would like more than a mile of Elroy to be widened, from McAngus Road to the track’s northern entrance. The circuit would also like to see the county pay for some of that widening, citing the potential economic benefit to the area.

The county has said it will pay to repave Kellam Road, if the circuit then extends that road to Pearce Lane, which connects with Texas 130. Kellam is currently a road to nowhere, passing by a few houses and farmhouses before coming to an end.

Currently, two tracts of land stand between Kellam and Pearce. Weldon Copeland of Rainbow Properties said someone with the circuit has an option to buy an 82-acre plot at Kellam’s end.

There’s also a more than 600-acre tract owned by the state’s General Land Office.

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has been one of the most vocal critics of the state’s pledged financial support for the race. However, on Tuesday the office’s School Land Board unanimously approved the sale of more than 6 acres of that tract — presumably enough for a road to be built if the financing can be agreed upon.

In his application for the development incentive, circuit President Steve Sexton wrote, “While we are asking for road incentives, you may still decide that the value of our proposal to county citizens is worthy of an abatement or rebate also.”


Updated: 11:45 p.m. Wednesday, May 16, 2012 | Posted: 7:53 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9, 2012

Elroy Road to be widened, but not before first F1 race


With Austin’s inaugural Formula One race back on the schedule for this fall, Travis County and Circuit of the Americas have resumed negotiations over how to split the $5 million to $6 million cost of repairing and expanding about a mile of Elroy Road, a bumpy two- lane county road that leads to one of the track site’s two entrances.

Both sides expect to work out a cost-sharing deal before long, but they say the project won’t be complete before the first race takes place Nov. 18.

With that and other traffic challenges in mind, F1 attorney Richard Suttle said race officials have two consultants working on a “highly choreographed” plan to efficiently move the 120,000 people expected to attend the race southeast of Austin.

“I don’t think it’s possible for them and us to get everything worked out and get the (road improvements) designed, permitted and built by the time they have their first race,” said Steve Manilla , Travis County’s transportation and natural resources director.

Perhaps, Manilla said, the F1 group “could come in here with guns blazing to pay a premium price to get it done quicker, but I don’t see that happening.”

Travis County, even before the possibility of F1 racing in Central Texas emerged two years ago, had intended to spend about $5.5 million rehabilitating more than three miles of Elroy Road east of Texas 130. But the prospect of heavy traffic on the road — the track’s north entrance will be about a mile east of where Elroy crosses McAngus Road — changed that plan.

The track’s other entrance will be on FM 812 to the south — both FM 812 and Elroy have direct access to the nearby Texas 130 tollway — and that two-lane highway will be expanded to four lanes by re-striping the existing 44 feet of road, transforming its broad shoulders into traffic lanes.

Both sides now agree that Elroy Road should be expanded to four lanes in the milelong stretch between McAngus and the track entrance — Elroy is already four lanes west of McAngus to Texas 130 — and that a low, two-lane bridge over Dry Creek needs to be replaced with a higher, four-lane bridge.

The two lanes of Elroy, which are rippled because of the unstable clay soils underneath the road, also would be rebuilt and resurfaced.

The county will move forward with the pavement repair on the rest of Elroy Road east and south of the track’s north entrance, Manilla said, a project likely to commence later this year. And he said the county likewise will rebuild the two lanes of McAngus between Texas 130 and Elroy.

Race organizers agree — begrudgingly, according to Suttle — that the cost of the repair and widening of Elroy between McAngus and the track entrance should be split. The two sides diverge, however, on how much each side should pay.

The county, arguing that repairing two lanes is inherently less expensive than building two more lanes from scratch and that the new lanes will be on right of way purchased by the county decades ago, wants Circuit of the Americas to pay more than half.

“They’ve told us, no more site permits until we come to shore on this deal,” Suttle said. “I think we’re going to get there.”


Sign the Petition/Voter Pledge – No Abusive Formula 1 Subsidies!

School $ vs Formula 1 $ . There's no money for Austin schools, yet Formula 1 is after your tax dollars. Tell Randi Shade NO! Vote for Kathie Tovo.Sign the Petition/Voter Pledge to Abusive F1 Subsidies!

The Austin City Council vote on the F1 subsidy was postponed to next Wednesday! Even if the Austin City Council manages to keep city money out of the deal (we doubt it), their vote will still trigger STATE tax dollars — at least $250 million.  Please call the Council at 974-2000 on Monday or Tuesday and simply ask them to vote NO on F1.  Or you can email them all here:  And, don’t forget to ask friends and family to do the same.  Thank you Austin!

PS  You might watch this video to learn how the Comptroller cooked the books on F1.

[emailpetition id="1"]


No time to rest on Tovo victory, Contact the council NOW – postpone the F1 vote!


Congratulations to Kathie Tovo and Austin voters. We don’t have time to rest on this victory folks!  The Austin City Council is rushing the Formula 1 vote without allowing the public to see the documents.“It’s done in a week’s time to avoid public scrutiny, and that’s exactly the opposite of what would be in the public’s interest.” Bill Spelman criticizing the 2003 rushed Domain Mall subsidy voteCity staff is playing hide-and-seek with the Formula 1 contract and economic has called Austin City Council members to postpone a vote on Formula 1 this Thursday.   The vote is only 72 hours away.  We can’t honestly tell you what and how much City money is still involved in this deal.  There’s no reason to rush a decision that would — regardless — trigger a $25MM per year for 10 years taxpayer subsidy by the state of Texas that the Comptroller continues to push.

Read our press release below.  Then please either call the Council at 974-2000 (ask for each by name, Mayor Leffingwell and Council members Martinez, Cole, Shade, Morrison, Spelman and Riley OR email them all here.

Watch the news tomorrow on Formula 1 for additional news!

Message to City Council

Postpone the Vote, Let Tovo deliberate, Respect the Voters!

Richard Viktorin, of Audits in the Public Interest in Austin, Texas, is a CPA and a former director at Texas Department of Commerce who worked in economic development. Vitktorin offered critical and well documented testimony to the Austin City Council on June 9.  Viktorin’s points were that State Comptroller Susan Combs “gamed” the numbers to justify the plan for the state to subsidize Formula 1 racing and did it in violation of the spirit of transparency in government.  Viktorin is now‘s call upon the Austin City Council to delay Thursday’s vote on Formula 1 until newly elected member, Kathie Tovo, takes her seat on the Council in late July.

Viktorin’s point is, “The public has not yet seen the F1 contract nor F1′s economic impact study which was promised no later than last week. Council may vote this Thursday to allow the City Manager to both negotiate and execute the contract with F1.  Once the city signs a deal, this will trigger $25MM per year for 10 years from the state of Texas, with the possibility of amounts much higher than $25MM going to F1 annually.  City Council is ducking the issue and passing the buck to the City Manager.  They are dodging their obligation to the citizens of Austin.  Delay the vote.   This will also respect Saturday night’s election results and allow Kathie Tovo to deliberate on this important issue.” founder, Brian Rodgers, broke the story last Spring on the City Council’s open meetings violations, one reason for Randi Shade’s defeat last Saturday.  Rodgers said, “If Formula 1 is such a good deal, surely it can withstand a thorough review by its critics.  Let’s allow Kathie Tovo a chance to deliberate on this, out of respect to the voters of Austin.”



Statesman on Who’s Funding Shade – Vote Tovo Y’all!

We weren’t the ones who said it.  It was the Statesman who made clear that Kathie Tovo deserves a chance to represent us and the incumbent, Randi Shade, should be sent home. Read it and vote today — Saturday, June 18th — or forever hold your peace!

Development community generous in giving to Randi Shade



Join us in Taking Back Austin! Forward this message or forever hold your peace!

Please join us in taking back our great city of Austin.  Forward this message to your Austin voting friends or send it out through your online social networks:

My friends at endorsed Kathie Tovo for Austin City Council.  Saturday, June 18th, is your last chance to vote in this runoff election.  Polls are open 7 to 7.

I am supporting Kathie Tovo because I agree with that we cannot afford another term of Randi Shade who has shown zero fiscal restraint, voting for every property tax and utility hike put before her.  Meanwhile, Council Member Shade is taking contributions from developers who who are reaping great benefits by offloading the costs of growth on to Austin residents.  And, least we forget, her contributors include the promoters of Formula 1, owned by billionaires, who are continuing to seek a taxpayer subsidy while telling us otherwise.

It’s time for a new voice on the Council – Kathie Tovo — who has already helped save the city $40M, facing down a portion of the Formula 1 giveaway.  We look forward to doing so much more with Kathie to take back our city and the taxpayer dollars needed for basic city services.

Find your poll site here.


Breaking! Tovo & Supporters Save Austin $40M…But who wouldn’t give $40M to get $250M?

Formula One owners have bowed to Austin voters and insurgent candidate Kathie Tovo who are opposed to using public money for the Formula 1 racetrack now under construction in Austin, Texas.  Today, Formula 1 pledged to put up the entire $4 million city match – $40 million over the life of the contract – in order to receive the $25 million per year for ten years from the state of Texas.

Brian Rodgers of, one of the groups leading the fight to stop the public subsidy of F1 said, “This is a great victory for Austin taxpayers and we thank the candidate we endorsed, Kathie Tovo, for standing strong and leading the opposition.   Tovo and our determined wall of community activists blocked this bad deal and forced the hand of the Formula 1 investors which was heading for a majority council rubber stamp approval next week.”

Richard Viktorin of Audits in the Public Interest, who performed a forensic analysis of  State Comptroller Susan Comb’s economic and fiscal estimate of the Formula deal said, “Kathie Tovo and all of us fighting this, just saved $40 million for the taxpayers of Austin.  Now, let’s see if the Texas legislature takes this subsidy down as they’re still trying to figure out where to find more money for public education.  Formula 1 is, so far, still getting a great deal.  It doesn’t take CPA to understand that a $4M trade for $25M, for each of 10 years, is a winner for Formula One yet still a bad deal for beleaguered Texas taxpayers.”



Susan Moffat Speaks Out Against Formula 1


Susan Moffat, unlike some Council members who are cowtowing to their Formula 1 billionaire buddies, nails it — this Formula 1 deal is such a taxpayer rip off. So, what’s the City’s big rush? To make sure they have a vote for it from Randi Shade, just in case she’s defeated by Kathie Tovo this next week in the runoff election.

Pull the Shade people! Early polls are open through Thurs., June 16. Election day is June 18th. The city is going to vote on this turkey on June 23rd.


What’s the damn hurry on F1? (We need money for the fight!)

What’s the damn hurry on Formula 1?

Answer: Randi Shade could be gone by June 23rd when the Council votes on it!

In the midst of massive cut backs and layoffs, Austin voters are telling us they are UNEQUIVOCALLY OPPOSED to this misuse of taxpayer dollars.

Watch this 3 minute video of Susan Moffat, former legislative researcher, local activist and wife one of the founders of South by Southwest who nailed it at yesterday’s City Council meeting.

The hogs are at the trough – take action OR give us some of your dough to fight for you.

Susan Moffat - Formula One
Susan Moffat – Formula One

Pull the Shade, elect Kathie Tovo and send the F1 billionaires a message:  Pay Your Own Way — like us regular taxpayers!

1.  Click here, print out the flier and take it to your neighbors.

2.  We’ve got tons of phone calls you can do from home — call us to help!

(Need to make some extra money — call us!)

3.  Early voting locations — pass to all your friends.   Early voting is now through Thursday, June 16th.  Election day is Saturday, June 18th.


Pull the Shade – Elect Tovo – Stop F1 Subsidies

Help us Pull the Shade, elect Kathie Tovo, and defeat yet another shameful tax dollar giveaway, this time to the billionaires at Formula 1.

There’s a BIG uptick in early voting in this runoff!  It IS a meaningful race with clear differences.  Here’s our take:

We’re getting into the race to Stop F1 Subsidies, Elect Kathie Tovo for Austin City Council & Help Pull the Shade!

Kathie Tovo proudly endorses Kathie Tovo against current Austin City Council incumbent Randi Shade in the runoff election for City Council, Place 3. Our endorsement is based on Shade’s refusal to oppose a taxpayer subsidy to Formula 1 racing and her opposition to fair geographic representation for Austin voters.   Read more here.

Wanna help us pull the Shade, tell F1 to pay its own way and to elect Tovo?

1.  Click here, print out the flier and take it to your neighbors.

2.  We’ve got tons of phone calls you can do from home — call us to help! (Need to make some extra money — call us!)

3.  Early voting locations — pass to all your friends.

Or just forward this message to help rattle the bones of Austin voterswho haven’t been voting, who were looking for a reason to!

Breaking news: This article, by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, David Cay Johnston, just hit the news about the F1′s plan to “skim” off our tax dollars.


Here’s Bill Aleshire at the West Austin Democrats last week on F1.  (Thanks to Todd Wroblewski for the filming.)

PS   Go here for information on polling sites. Shade’s big money supporters in Austin’s growth machine are running negative and misleading ads — tell your neighbors to pull the Shade!


We proudly endorse Tovo, Pull the Shade, Stop F1 subsidies proudly endorses Kathie Tovo against current Austin City Council incumbent Randi Shade in the runoff election for City Council, Place 3 based on Shade’s refusal to oppose a taxpayer subsidy to Formula 1 racing and her opposition to fair geographic representation for Austin voters.

The endorsement acknowledges Kathie Tovo’s opposition to city subsidies for Formula 1 and her enthusiastic support for fair geographic representation (single-member districts) combined with a process that would take the redistricting process out of the hands of the Austin City Council and put it in the hands of a non-partisan redistricting commission. was co-founded by Brian Rodgers who fought the Domain Mall subsidies and most recently broke the story on the Austin City Council’s “round-robin” open meetings violations. Rodgers said, “It is clear to us that Council Member Shade supports subsidies for Formula 1 and can’t see past the cockeyed economic projections put forth by State Comptroller Susan Combs and the promoters and billionaire owners of Formula 1.  Spending $290 million of taxpayer money on a sports franchise in the midst of school closures and social service cuts is a despicable act of runaway government.  In addition, Shade does not support geographic representation for city council elections, even though all council members live inside the central city.  ChangeAustin members living outside the central city feel politically marooned and have shown enthusiastic support for single member districts while Councilwoman Shade has been pushing a process to keep just another version of the at-large system in place.”

In contrast, Kathie Tovo has run commercials alerting Austinites to the proposal to help divert tax dollars to Formula 1.  She also enthusiastically supports single-member districts and believes changing our current system will ensure more geographic representation on the City Council and produce more economic diversity among candidates. She believes Council races have become very costly and time-consuming, which discourages many excellent candidates from pursuing public office. She has also said she will work with the City and community stakeholders to hold a series of public hearings across the community to allow the public to decide what Austin’s new system should look like. This includes a non-partisan redistricting process to take the politics out of drawing district lines. has a flier they’re asking voters to circulate in their communities and on the internet which can be found here.  Live phone calls are now underway to reach thousands of Austin voters who opposed the Domain subsidies in 2008.

Linda Curtis, co-founder of, said, “We are calling on’s supporters to help us break through the cynicism that Austinites feel about their officials — a big reason why they’re not voting.  It will take neighbors talking to neighbors to help get folks to the polls.  We need your help to reach 12,000 of our supporters!”

Early voting starts today, June 6th and runs through Tuesday, June 14th.  Election day is Saturday, June 18th.  Polls are open 7 to 7.  Early and election day voting polls and information for Travis County and Williamson County are here.



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