Project Connect supporters welcome Biden's nomination of Pete Buttigieg for transportation secretary
President-elect Joe Biden announced his nomination of Pete Buttigieg for Secretary of Transportation on Tuesday, which public transit advocates say will be good for local initiatives such as Austin's Project Connect.
Buttigieg served as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, before unsuccessfully running for the Democratic presidential nomination against Biden.
As mayor, Buttigieg secured $200 million in private investment in downtown South Bend, which led to job growth and facilitated public-private partnerships to improve the local transportation system, according to a press release from the Biden-Harris transition team. He also launched a "Smart Streets" initiative similar to Austin's "Great Streets" master plan.
Capital Metro CEO Randy Clarke congratulated Buttigieg on Twitter, saying that he is "looking forward to (his) leadership helping build Project Connect."
Congratulations on your historic nomination. Yes you can find love on transportation. You got engaged in an ✈️ term… https://t.co/CibXW3TsP6— Randy Clarke 😷 (@Randy Clarke 😷) 1608147028.0
"In Mayor Pete, President-Elect Biden has found one of the smartest, most innovative, caring, and effective civic leaders in the country to deliver transformational infrastructure projects," he said in a statement Tuesday.
Adler added that he looks forward to working with Buttigieg if he is appointed to the office, on Project Connect, a $7.1 billion overhaul of the city's transit system. About half of the project's budget will come from a city property tax rate increase, which Austin voters overwhelmingly approved on Nov. 3. The rest will need to come from federal grants overseen by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
"This project, with its emphasis on mitigating climate change and addressing historic systemic inequities, would seem to be exactly the kind of infrastructure project this country needs, and that reflects the future Secretary's stated priorities," Adler said in the statement.
Indeed, Buttigieg outlined his priorities—job creation, addressing climate change and enhancing equity—in a tweet on Wednesday.
This is a moment of tremendous opportunity—to create jobs, meet the climate challenge, and enhance equity for all.… https://t.co/FNT74F6lHf— Pete Buttigieg (@Pete Buttigieg) 1608077991.0
They align with the main aims of Project Connect, which will bring two new light rail lines to Austin and includes a $300 million anti-displacement fund.
Others feel similarly optimistic about Project Connect's prospects under the incoming Biden administration.
American Public Transportation Association Chairperson Nuria Ferrnandez is hopeful that Capital Metro will be able to secure the federal funding it needs to bring light rails to Austin.
"We know public transportation will have a friend in the White House come January," she said during an Austin Chamber event last month.
Chad Chitwood, a spokesperson for APTA, elaborated.
"President-elect Biden has been a tireless champion for public transit and passenger rail," he wrote in an email to Austonia. "He has seen the millions of Americans that rely on bus and rail to get to work, visit their families, and engage in their communities, and he knows just how much it means to them to have mobility through public transit."
This support will be critical as many public transit agencies across the country are facing budget shortfalls—and service cuts—due to the pandemic. It also represents a sharp departure from the current administration.
Although Congress appropriates federal transit dollars, such legislation must be signed by the president. Since entering office, President Donald Trump has consistently tried to cut funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a report by Bloomberg City Lab.
Already, things are looking up for Project Connect—despite the ongoing challenges Capital Metro faces because of the pandemic.
Capital Metro announced Monday that it had been awarded a $900,000 grant by the Federal Transit Administration. It will go toward Project Connect's anti-displacement efforts.
"The … grant award comes only one month after Austinites made a historic decision to fund Project Connect, and it is the first example of federal funding Capital Metro expects to secure in support of the program," according to a press release from the transit agency.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will decide whether to confirm Buttigieg.
Typically, the president-elect's cabinet nominees have confirmation hearings in advance of Inauguration Day. However, the increasingly polarized political climate means that these hearings have become more contentious in recent years.
President Donald Trump's transportation secretary nominee, Elaine Chao, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Jan. 31, 2017, less than two weeks after Trump's inauguration.
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So you want to buy a house?
To anyone trying to get on the "housing ladder," it's been a discouraging couple of years as prices skyrocketed in a market crowded with buyers bidding against each other for just about any available home.
Things may be calming down, with the Austin Board of REALTORS reporting fewer sales and more available homes this summer.
Mortgage rates have more than doubled in the last year, from around 3% to well over 6% on a 30-year fixed rate loan, getting even more of a bump this week after the Federal Reserve raised bank rates on Wednesday.
So how affordable are homes right now? That, of course, depends on what you want and how much you're able or willing to pay, but here are some rough estimates of what a typical buyer would pay to buy a $650,000 home, which would be considered "mid-price" in today's market.
Mortgage banker Chris Holland (NMLS 211033) of Austin's Sente Mortgage ran some numbers for Austonia to illustrate a typical purchase.
Holland says that while the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is often mentioned in the media, the most popular loan that he's seeing now is a 7/1 adjustable rate mortgage, which has a fixed rate for 7 years and then adjusts every year based on market rates, with a limit on how much it can increase each year. The interest is amortized over a 30-year period. Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) offer lower rates than fixed rate loans.
Here are the numbers, which are examples. In practice, exact numbers vary with a buyer's credit rating and overall financial situation, and with the rate, which can move up or down at any time.
- $650,000 home purchase price
- 7/1 ARM at 5.875%
- 5% down payment, equals $32,500
- 95% financed, equals $617,500
- $4,990 payment, including principle and interest (P&I), insurance, and property tax
- Typically, a borrower's debt to income ratio needs to be at or below 45%. So for this mortgage, a borrower, or borrowers, would need income of roughly $11,100/month, or $133,200/year. That number could be higher, depending on the buyer's outstanding credit balances on things like credit cards and car loans.
Holland says he's had a lot of clients approved for loans who were house hunting but have put that on hold, hoping prices come down.
Camp Fimfo Waco, a brand new camping resort, is kicking off football and fall camping season in style! With top-notch amenities, premium accommodations, and 10 weekends of fall fun, there’s no better place to have a fall camping getaway, especially if you’re a Baylor football fan!
Fall promises to be a one-of-a-kind camping experience. From Sept. 16 to Nov. 24, weekends will be packed with fall-themed activities, including special Halloween weekends in October. Campers can enjoy activities like fall crafts, campground trick-or-treating, costume contests, site decorating, outdoor movie nights, and more!
Packages and Ways to Stay
Camp Fimfo Waco
Located just 5 miles from McLane Stadium, Camp Fimfo Waco is the perfect place to stay during home game weekends. Skip the stuffy hotel room and embrace the great outdoors before cheering on the Baylor Bears! Campers can purchase a Baylor Tailgating Package that includes a pre-game meal from Executive Chef Sean Kelley and transportation to and from the game! Chef Kelley will also be cooking up delicious, elevated tailgating meals near the stadium so make sure to check out The Plaid Plate food truck before the game.
Stay in style and comfort, no matter your camping preference! At Camp Fimfo Waco, there are multiple ways to stay. Red Carpet RV sites come with a concrete pad and patio, full hook-ups, cable hook-up, a charcoal grill, fire ring and fire pit. Back-in or pull-thru options are available, as well as coveted spots tucked along the Bosque River!
Don’t have an RV? Not a problem, Camp Fimfo Waco has cabins too! Book a Riverview Firewheel Cabin if you’re looking for an air-conditioned oasis for the whole family. Complete with a kitchen and private bathroom, this cabin can fit up to 10 people. Elevate your stay by adding on a golf cart or snag a private cabana by the pool for guaranteed shade. With wifi available throughout the park, you can stay connected during your stay!
Amenities and Activities
Camp Fimfo Waco
Camp Fimfo Waco features lots of amenities to fill your days with fun, whether you’re a kid or kid at heart. After challenging your friends to a game of pickleball, basketball, or mini golf, go for a dip in the resort-style, heated pool - open daily through October! Stay on the weekends through October to enjoy the interactive splash playground. With plenty of ways to burn off energy, like the jumping pillow or playground, you can be sure to end the day with a peaceful night around the campfire!
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