Stories by Jo Clifton

Monday, July 13, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Manager proposes tax hike, 2 percent employee raise

Presenting a budget with a 2 percent employee pay raise and no layoffs, and a 3.5 percent property tax increase, City Manager Spencer Cronk told Council Monday he was proposing a budget that meets the twin crises of the pandemic…

Friday, July 10, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Is money going to decide Travis County races?

With early voting ending today for Tuesday’s Travis County runoff elections, the Democratic candidates for district attorney and county attorney were busy making phone calls trying to coax pandemic-weary voters to the polls. They were also filing campaign finance reports…

Thursday, July 9, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Council seeks to add teeth to virus regulations

Mayor Steve Adler is proposing two ordinances: one would authorize the city health authority – in this case Dr. Mark Escott – to adopt rules protecting people from Covid 19 and create a class C misdemeanor with a fine of…

Tuesday, July 7, 2020 by Jo Clifton

City stepping back from bulk pickups

As cases of Covid-19 continue to spread through the community, it becomes more onerous for many essential workers to do their jobs, including those who provide trash, recycling and compost collection services.As the twice-yearly curbside collection of bulk items and large…

Thursday, July 2, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Misunderstanding may lower vote-by-mail numbers

As if worries about the coronavirus were not enough, some Travis County voters inadvertently failed to ask for the correct ballot when applying to vote by mail. As a result, some voters will get a ballot only for the Texas…

Tuesday, June 30, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Bee Cave Council member sues over removal

A member of the Bee Cave City Council who was removed from office on June 17, five weeks after being sworn in for a two-year term, filed suit against the city as well as the mayor and Council members who…

Friday, June 26, 2020 by Jo Clifton

With virus surging, Cronk revises return-to-work plan

City Manager Spencer Cronk announced Thursday that he was postponing reintegrating city employees back into the workplace for a month due to concerns about the increase in Covid-19 cases. Instead of starting on June 29, the first phase is now…

Friday, June 26, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Housing, Planning & Zoning departments to merge

Under a plan proposed by Assistant City Manager Rodney Gonzales Thursday, the city’s Planning and Zoning Department would be merged with the Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department in the 2020-21 fiscal year, which starts in October. The new department’s…

Tuesday, June 23, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Former Council Member Berl Handcox, who broke the color barrier, dies at 88

Berl Handcox, Austin’s first elected African American City Council member since Reconstruction, has died at the age of 88. Handcox was elected as part of the seven-member Council on May 1, 1971, and reelected on April 7, 1973. He received…

Thursday, June 18, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Eckhardt leads in poll but trails in fundraising

According to a poll released by the Sarah Eckhardt campaign, the former Travis County judge has a wide lead in the race for Senate District 14 over both of her closest rivals, state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez and former City Council…

Tuesday, June 16, 2020 by Jo Clifton

DeBeauvoir: More than 25,000 ballots in the mail

If you are one of more than 25,000 Travis County registered voters who requested to vote by mail in the July 14 primary runoff and special election, your ballot is likely on its way to you. Travis County Clerk Dana…

Friday, June 12, 2020 by Jo Clifton

County judge selection up to precinct chairs

When Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt announced in March that she would resign from her job as the leader of the Commissioners Court in order to run for Senate District 14, it set in motion a series of events that will…

Thursday, June 11, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Alley vacation granted despite protests

City Council voted unanimously on June 4 to grant vacation of an alley between East Eighth and East Ninth streets in order to facilitate construction of a multifamily complex, in spite of a request from neighbors in an adjacent residential…

Tuesday, June 9, 2020 by Jo Clifton

City calls for help with redistricting

Just like Congress and the Texas Legislature, Austin City Council is required to draw new districts every 10 years to coincide with the U.S. Census. But unlike the Legislature and Congress, the city asks ordinary citizens to participate in the…

Thursday, June 4, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Committee takes on task of fixing two retirement systems

After hearing about impending problems with two of the city’s retirement systems, the employees retirement system (COAERS) and the Austin police retirement system (APRS), the City Council Audit & Finance Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to designate itself as a legislative…

Tuesday, June 2, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Cities, Texas Gas Service agree to settlement

Attorneys for Central Texas cities including Austin and Gulf Coast cities including Beaumont and Port Arthur, along with attorneys representing the staff of the Texas Railroad Commission, have reached a settlement agreement with Texas Gas Service for a rate increase…

Friday, May 29, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Council OKs rule changes for old Motorola site

Last week City Council gave preliminary approval for a number of changes to an existing land development agreement at the site of the old Motorola chip fabrication facility at 3443 Ed Bluestein Blvd., giving area residents hope for much-needed jobs…

Thursday, May 28, 2020 by Jo Clifton

APD community engagement audit finds some improvement but data lacking

Although the Austin Police Department has put considerable effort into improving its community policing efforts over the past four years and there have been some positive impacts, an audit by the Office of the City Auditor concluded there was insufficient…

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Council OKs SOS amendment for Lantana tract

With the blessing of the Save Our Springs Alliance, City Council voted unanimously last week to approve a zoning change on the Lantana property at 7415 Southwest Parkway, allowing for the development of multifamily housing instead of the office complex…

Friday, May 22, 2020 by Jo Clifton

City to exit driver’s license hold contract with DPS

City Council voted unanimously Thursday to direct the city manager to discontinue the city’s participation in a state Department of Public Safety program that places holds on driver’s licenses when people fail to pay or miss payments on class C…

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