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County's budget appears to allow that option

Thursday, September 12, 2002 by

T ravis County Commissioners can expect a call from Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman to clear up some uncertainties about funding for the Community Action Network (CAN) in Travis County’s FY 2002-03 budget. Officials with CAN went to city and county officials earlier this year asking for more money to help cover the costs of meeting the additional demand for social services (see In Fact Daily, Feb. 21, 2002). And while both were able to provide that funding for this year (see In Fact Daily, April 16, 2002), Goodman is concerned that the county will not continue that increase in the upcoming fiscal year.

“Maybe between staff and Council Members, we can talk to some of the Commissioners,” Goodman said during the final council budget meeting on Tuesday. “Maybe among us we can come up with a small delegation to go talk to the County Judge and a Commissioner or two and see if we can get some information on that.” City Manager Toby Futrell told Goodman that the city budget for FY 2002-03 contains additional money for CAN. “Last year, you did a match. The county was going to put in $500,000 and we did, in order to help with that increased demand in basic needs. What you have in your budget today is a second year of that additional $500,000 to apply to this increased demand for assistance.” Travis County Commissioners have already approved their operating budget, but are still incorporating changes and have yet to officially set the tax rate. Public hearings on the property tax rate are scheduled for later this month. While the county budget does not specifically include a line item for the additional CAN funding next year, it does allocate an extra $500,000 to the Travis County Health and Human Services and Veterans Service Department for general departmental needs to be determined by Executive Director Stephen Williams. That money is part of the overall increase in funding for the department. This year’s budget is $24.7 million, with funding set at $25.5 million for FY 2003.

Goodman says she hopes the county can be convinced to earmark dollars for CAN in order to maximize the impact of the funding. “We thought we were going to be able to leverage with that extra $1 million,” Goodman said. “The increased demand in a down economy is obvious and certainly easily identified here in Austin.”

Dukes Rhone lives in Pflugerville, not Austin

The newest appointee to the Zoning and Platting Commission, Stacy Dukes Rhone, cannot serve unless the City Council approves a waiver of the city’s residency requirement. Dukes Rhone lives in Pflugerville and therefore is not be eligible for the service on the majority of commissions without that waiver. Sandra Frazier, an aide to Council Member Danny Thomas, who appointed Dukes Rhone in late August, confirmed that she is working on the waiver for presentation to the Council.

Although members of the Planning Commission must live within the city, that requirement can be waived for members of the ZAP. Assistant City Attorney John Steiner explained, “That’s because the Planning Commission is created by the Charter and the Zoning and Platting Commission is created by the ordinance . . . An ordinance cannot waive the Charter,” but one ordinance can waive requirements of another ordinance.

ZAP Commissioner Angular Adams, who was appointed by Council Member Daryl Slusher, said, “There are enough intelligent African-Americans in the City of Austin to serve on these commissions. I just think Council Member Thomas should have stayed within the city limits.” Adams, who is also African-American, said that Vincent Aldridge, who recently stepped down from the commission, could have remained on the ZAP were it not for the residency requirement. “We lost a very intelligent young man,” Adams said. “If we are going to get somebody outside of Austin why did he have to come off?” Aldridge, who was Thomas’ appointment, surrendered his seat when he moved to Killeen.

Dukes Rhone is the sister of State Rep. Dawnna Dukes.

Law requires some parts of Williamson to be added to membership

Officials of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) will ask representatives of surrounding counties if they’re interested in joining the transportation planning group. The invitation would come as CAMPO plans to expand its boundaries to include part of Williamson County just east of Round Rock in response to population growth in that area.

The last time CAMPO changed its boundaries was after the 1990 Census, according to Executive Director Michael Aulick. New census figures show an increase in population density in parts of Williamson County. The federal law governing the Metropolitan Planning Organizations requires them to cover urbanized areas as well as areas that are likely to become urbanized within the next 20 years. But those same federal rules would allow CAMPO to include all of Travis, Williamson, and Hays Counties within its boundaries, or even add Bastrop and Caldwell Counties.

“What I am recommending is that the Executive Committee analyze these alternatives and make a recommendation to the Policy Advisory Committee by the end of the year,” said Aulick. “I would recommend that the Chair send a letter to the judges of the four counties that we’re considering and ask them for their views so we’ll know if they’re formally interested. Before the legislative session begins, we need to consider our membership. Our deadline is to do this before our first meeting in 2003.”

Aulick pointed out that the surrounding counties would obtain some benefits from joining CAMPO, including an important seat at the table when discussing regional transportation issues. State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, who serves as the chair of CAMPO’s Policy Advisory Committee, agreed. “This is an opportunity to do more than talk about regionalism. It’s an opportunity to do something about regionalism…if the people who come to the table are there for one another.” The region’s growing population, Barrientos said, made it essential that different jurisdictions work together. “It’s no longer ten or twenty years ago when Austin was the 900-pound gorilla. We’re all in the same shape in Central Texas. Let’s study this, because it’s serious.” .

© 2002 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

Board of Adjustment . . .Tonight the Board of Adjustment will hear a plea from the South River City Citizens to reconsider an administrative appeal on use of property on Riverside Drive by El Taquito for a limited restaurant. Clarke Hammond, president of the neighborhood group, is seeking reconsideration with the assistance of consultant Sarah Crocker. The board is also scheduled to make a decision on a height variance for the proposed new Whole Foods Store at 6th & Lamar. Richard Suttle, who represents the developer, said he will seek another postponement because he has nearly reached agreement with the neighborhood… Gentrification Task Force…The citizens’ task force considering the possible impact of historic zoning on the economics of living in East Austin will meet tonight to talk about what they may report to the City Council. However, the group is unlikely to make any final decisions tonight… Splash! Exhibit talk tonight…The first in a series of educational programs about Barton Springs begins at 7 p.m. tonight at the Sheffield Education Center by the historic bathhouse at the pool. Hydrogeologist Raymond Slade of the USGS, who monitors stream and river gauges across Texas, will discuss the impact of flooding on the Springs. Joe Guerrero from the Watershed Protection & Development Review Department will talk about the city’s flood monitoring system and another speaker will talk about plans for the pool… Bat stamp dedication Friday… Bat Conservation International and the National Wildlife Federation will join with the US Postal Service in dedicating the first American Bats stamp series at 7 p.m. Friday. The dedication ceremony will take place at the Southeast corner of the Congress Avenue Bridge on Town Lake. A bat house building demonstration begins at the same location at 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, contact Alice Nance at 476-9805 or Bob Benson at 327-9721.

© 2002 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

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