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Reporter’s Notebook: True Facts

Monday, June 6, 2016 by Elizabeth Pagano

Über Uber… Avid Whispers readers will note that, last week, we reported on an erroneous Uber claim that the Circuit of the Americas racetrack was outside of the Austin City Limits and drivers “could earn BIG” by driving people to and from the X Games. Of course, the city annexed the track in 2012, making it very much inside the city limits. Soon after, Uber appeared to have gotten the memo and sent out a much more accurate message to drivers. It read: “The City of Austin instructed COTA yesterday that Uber is not allowed to operate at the track this weekend. Unfortunately, this means you will not be able to pick up at the event. We have also been informed that COTA is just inside Austin city jurisdiction so though you can’t pick up at the track, you can still drop off there (as we continue to operate outside city limits).”

Budget fun?… It seems like every year the city tries out a new way to encourage feedback on the budgeting process. This year, they are looking for a virtual, kind of gamified type of feedback through an online budget simulator, which will be up and running through July 15. The simulator allows Austinites to tweak the various components of the city budget to see how increases and decreases will impact their tax bill, to comment on their reasoning for the changes and to submit their proposals to the city. As an experiment, the Austin Monitor ran through the program and determined that, if one decreased all of the budgets offered by 10 percent (which is deemed “severe” by the simulator), the median combined annual city of Austin property tax and utility bill would drop from $3,795.53 to $3,538.21.

More of you-know-what… Those of us who endured hours (and hours and hours) of city meetings, countless ordinance drafts and memorandums of “understanding” must be forgiven for any number of post-TNC stress disorder symptoms. (If “post” is even an accurate term.) Over the weekend, one of our comrades used his accrual of so. much. ride-hailing. info to compose a very cathartic Tweetstorm, skewering an Observer piece about Austin’s plight that was a little shy on facts. If you, too, have been frustrated by national coverage of our stubborn city, or if you are simply easing into your work week and need a minute before you do anything actually productive, we recommend you head over to the Twitter feed of Austin Business Journal‘s Michael Theis nowish.

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