Iconic Austin business owners voice opposition to Prop A

For years, Esther's Follies has given a lot of people something to laugh about, but the small theater went dark in March because of the pandemic.

“When I heard about this, especially the timing, I had to say something,” said Jack Gilmore with Jack Allen’s Kitchen/Salt Trader’s Coastal Cooking.

On Monday, Gilmore was with a group of iconic Austin business owners who took the stage at Esther’s Follies to voice opposition to Proposition A.



“I find that thing the City Council and the people that back them up are so fiscally irresponsible that it defies the imagination,” said David Kruger with Kruger’s Jewelers.

Proposition A is a tax increase to fund CapMetro's $7 billion transportation plan called Project Connect. A double-digit property tax rate hike, planners say, is needed to pay for the comprehensive system. The money would be used to build new rapid bus routes, a network of commuter and light rail lines as well as an underground downtown transfer hub for passengers.

RELATED: Austin city staff recommends $7.1 billion investment into Project Connect

Supporters of Prop A have consistently said the tax increase for a typical homeowner on their annual tax bill is going to be around $300. But for small business owners, the increase is much more significant.

Travis County Commissioner Gerald  Daugherty did some number crunching. “It will be the final nail in a lot of people’s coffin, I’m convinced of that," he said.

RELATED: Austin City Council, CapMetro create Austin Transit Partnership to implement Project Connect

Here is the list of some notable names and tax hike estimates, according to the commissioner.

  • $1000 more for Juan in A Million
  • $1500 increase for Dirty Martin’s
  • $1600 increase for Amy’s Ice Cream on Burnet Road
  • $3200 increase for Home Slice on 53rd Street
  • $3,000 increase for Esther’s Follies

“We are are not open, we are not going to be open for a long time so no money coming in paying an extra $3000,” said Shannon Sedwick with Esther's Follies.

RELATED: Project Connect transit plan one step closer to becoming reality

The group also took exception to the claim that the tax rate increase for a homeowner, when spread out over a year, is manageable.

 “$300 for those individuals in the low income, in the areas, rentals, or maybe a little house, $300 is a lot of money. It may not be to someone who is making $70-$100,000 a year, but there’s someone making $30,000, who happens to be on the front line and maybe getting sick from this pandemic, $300 is a lot of money," Voices of Austin chairperson Gonzalo Barrientos said. "It could pay for a doctor, or a hospital, they could pay for a little bit of this kid that they want to send to college, so never say that $300 is not a big deal, vote no on Prop A."

RELATED: CapMetro's Project Connect at the center of debate

On Tuesday, a group led by the Austin Justice Coalition and Workers Defense will hold a news conference in support of Prop A. The organizers claim the transit plan will help address  Austin‘s history of racial inequity.