Stories by Jo Clifton

Friday, July 30, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Council sets maximum tax rate

City Council took the first step toward setting next year’s property tax rate by voting Thursday to designate the maximum tax rate for Fiscal Year 2021-22 at 55.42 cents per $100 valuation. On a vote of 9-2, they followed staff…

Thursday, July 29, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Mayor, manager at odds over requiring vaccinations

On Wednesday, Mayor Steve Adler urged City Manager Spencer Cronk to require all city employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19, with a few exceptions. His comments came in an emailed press release. A few hours later, a city spokesperson released…

Wednesday, July 28, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Public safety looms over city budget talks

The plea for more staff at Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services has reached City Council’s ears. The majority of Council members expressed a desire at Tuesday’s work session to increase that funding for next year, as requested by Selena Xie,…

Thursday, July 22, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Council members seek better system to help troubled officers

In response to an audit that found Austin Police Department is using an outdated system to identify police officers in need of help, interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon told the City Council Audit & Finance Committee Wednesday that while his…

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Audit finds APD failing officers who need help

The Austin Police Department’s system for identifying officers in need of help and connecting them with support or wellness services is failing both the officers and the department, according to an audit released Tuesday. The audit, which was conducted by…

Tuesday, July 20, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Mayor Steve Adler on meeting the challenges of 2021

The city and its leaders have faced multiple challenges in the past 16 months: Covid-19, homelessness, Winter Storm Uri and the failure of the Texas power grid, and the Texas Legislature’s continuing attempts to limit the choices Austin and other…

Friday, July 16, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Sale prices soaring for Austin-area homes

In the first six months of 2021, the Austin Board of Realtors reported, the median price of homes in the city of Austin has increased nearly 31 percent to $530,000. Even more eye-popping, for the month of June, ABoR said…

Thursday, July 15, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Report: Ex-AE employee misused city resources, lied to auditors

An investigation by the Office of the City Auditor found that a former utility accounts specialist at Austin Energy misused his city computer and email to benefit his secondary employment and failed to do work assigned to him, forcing the…

Wednesday, July 14, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Firefighters’ leader says department needs more funds

When City Manager Spencer Cronk presented the Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget to City Council last week, he noted that the new Loop 360 fire/EMS station would be opening in the coming fiscal year. According to the manager’s budget document, the…

Tuesday, July 13, 2021 by Jo Clifton

City budget proposal gives taxpayers a break

Despite a pandemic that still ravages parts of the country and in the face of hostile legislation from the state, Austin “has come through the many challenges of the past year in as good or better shape than any big…

Friday, July 2, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Judge denies Virden’s request for injunction

Federal District Judge Robert Pitman has denied political candidate Jennifer Virden’s request for a preliminary injunction to prevent the city from enforcing its campaign finance law. Virden immediately filed an appeal. Virden, who lost in a runoff last December to…

Wednesday, June 30, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Goodwin wins suit against Bee Cave Council

Bee Cave’s mayor and City Council members acted illegally last year when they voted to remove one of their members – Bill Goodwin – from the Council, according to a ruling from Travis County District Judge Lora Livingston. Livingston ruled…

Wednesday, June 23, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Parties seek election judges, workers for March

Even though March 2022 seems far away, Democrats and Republicans are gearing up for the March 1 primary elections. Part of that is appointing election judges and other polling place workers. Travis County Democratic Party Chair Katie Naranjo has been…

Tuesday, June 22, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Gómez, Woody prepare for rematch at ballot box

Margaret Gómez, who has served as Travis County Commissioner for Precinct 4 since 1995 and who was the first Mexican American woman in a county commissioner position, declared Monday that she is not done yet. Susanna Woody announced last week…

Friday, June 18, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Council gives final OK on tank farm site rezoning

City Council voted 10-0 last week to grant planned unit development zoning on the former site of the East Austin tank farm at 1011 and 1017 Springdale Road. Council Member Pio Renteria made the motion to approve rezoning for the…

Wednesday, June 16, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Council gives final approval for dense development on Brackenridge site

After years of planning and negotiations, City Council gave final approval Thursday for Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning for the Central Health property at 15th and Red River streets – the former Brackenridge Hospital site. The vote, which was on…

Tuesday, June 15, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Reformer ponders challenging Shea

Bob Libal, a consultant for criminal justice and immigration reform organizations, announced Monday that he is “considering a run” against Travis County Precinct 2 Commissioner Brigid Shea in next spring’s Democratic primary. The major issue for Libal is Shea’s support…

Friday, June 11, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Council delays considering wastewater service in Bull Creek watershed

City Council put off a decision on whether to grant a wastewater service extension request to CWS Capital Partners in the environmentally sensitive Bull Creek Watershed at Thursday’s meeting. The postponement came after Council Member Leslie Pool announced that there…

Thursday, June 10, 2021 by Jo Clifton

City tax increase likely, but not 8 percent

Although City Council can raise the city’s tax rate by 8 percent under Gov. Greg Abbott’s disaster declaration related to Winter Storm Uri, Council members will have to carefully weigh how to spend any revenue collected on money generated above…

Thursday, June 10, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Austin legislators fought hard for city, Franco reports

It was no surprise to City Council Tuesday when Brie Franco, Austin’s intergovernmental relations officer, described the recently concluded 2021 session of the Texas Legislature as “one of the most difficult sessions I’ve actually worked on in my over 20…

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