Stories by Jo Clifton

Wednesday, February 26, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Council declines to vote on airport lounge contract

What started as an objection from the second-place bidder for a lucrative contract to build and operate a lounge at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport ended with Council rejecting staffers’ recommendation and sending them back to the drawing board at last Thursday’s…

Tuesday, February 25, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Petition would recriminalize homeless camping

Travis County Republican Party Chair Matt Mackowiak began the week taking a shot at local Democrats on the Austin City Council, announcing a petition that seeks to recriminalize camping in public places by the homeless.According to local Republican Party spokesman…

Friday, February 21, 2020 by Jo Clifton

City asks UT for proposals on Muny, Brackenridge tract

City Council sent a friendly message to the University of Texas on Thursday, asking UT to give the city proposals for how to deal with the historic Lions Municipal Golf Course and the Brackenridge Development Agreement as well as other…

Thursday, February 20, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Eight school districts issue warning to TCAD

Eight school districts that depend on the Travis Central Appraisal District to provide them with accurate property values are facing a serious loss of revenue as a result of a decision by TCAD’s chief appraiser not to reappraise residential properties…

Wednesday, February 19, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Timbercreek Apartments headed for revamp

The venerable Timbercreek Apartments at 614 S. First St. will at some point in the near future be demolished and replaced with a larger, modern, more environmentally friendly tower – if all goes according to plan for the developer.As Jerry…

Friday, February 14, 2020 by Jo Clifton

TCAD appraisal decision draws Realtors’ ire

On Wednesday, Marya Crigler, chief appraiser for the Travis Central Appraisal District, told representatives of nine local school districts that TCAD would not be reappraising most residential properties this year. That means the school districts, as well as Travis County,…

Friday, February 14, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Council OKs Lake Travis floodplain variance

Council easily approved a floodplain variance for a homeowner on Lake Travis last week, after hearing staffers’ sympathetic description of problems the homeowner was facing and the need for the variance.Kevin Shunk, division manager for watershed engineering in the Watershed…

Thursday, February 13, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Lawsuit claims TCAD hiding sales price information

Protax, which represents property owners who are protesting the property values assigned to their homes, and 10 of its employees have sued the Travis Central Appraisal District alleging the agency has violated the Texas Public Information Act.According to the lawsuit,…

Tuesday, February 11, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Audit finds temp employee misused city truck

The Office of the City Auditor has found that a temporary employee of the Planning and Zoning Department regularly misused his assigned city vehicle to drive himself home and run personal errands. His work with the city ended shortly after…

Friday, February 7, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Cronk promises new body cam video policy soon

What started out as a routine approval of an amendment for a large contract for police body cameras and Tasers turned into a discussion about the city’s new policy on releasing body cam footage at Thursday’s Council meeting.With the exception…

Thursday, February 6, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Local efforts helping with 2020 census

City Council members heard an update on 2020 census preparations at Tuesday’s work session. The presentation emphasized the importance of the census and efforts the city and Travis County will undertake to make sure that communities at risk of being…

Monday, February 3, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Audit finds tax increment financing works

According to a report from the Office of the City Auditor, the city has successfully used tax increment financing to attract development to places that otherwise might not have seen new infrastructure, such as Austin’s old airport, now the Mueller…

Friday, January 31, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Planners seeking the ‘missing middle’ in zoning

During the past 10 years, only about 2 percent of housing units built in Austin fell within what planners call the “missing middle,” according to planners rewriting the city’s Land Development Code. Annick Beaudet and Laura Keating, who reported to…

Wednesday, January 29, 2020 by Jo Clifton

City pays MPT Garza’s bar dues

The city of Austin paid Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza’s bar dues in 2018 and 2019, according to information the city provided to attorney and activist Bill Aleshire through a public information request. Garza, who announced that she would not…

Tuesday, January 28, 2020 by Jo Clifton

AE, but not drivers, charging toward renewable goals

A report from the Office of the City Auditor states that Austin Energy is on track to reduce carbon emissions from utility operations so the city can meet its goal of being carbon-neutral by 2050. But auditors also found that…

Friday, January 24, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Just figuring out how to clean up creeks may be costly

When Council Member Paige Ellis and three of her colleagues decided to do something about contamination of Austin’s creeks and rivers from trash as well as scooters, they focused on how the Watershed Protection Department should prepare an extensive study…

Wednesday, January 22, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Austin may get an economic development corp.

City Council appears to be moving cautiously toward creation of a local economic development corporation that would be totally separate from the city but governed by a Council-appointed board of directors. People unfamiliar with such entities may naturally wonder why…

Wednesday, January 8, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Taxpayers sue over lack of appraisal hearings

One hundred and thirty-eight Travis County property owners have sued the Travis Appraisal Review Board and the Travis Central Appraisal District for failing to provide timely hearings on the property owners’ protests of their 2019 appraisals.The two agencies are responsible…

Tuesday, January 7, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Former city employee misused computer, email

Last January, members of the city auditor’s investigative team received an allegation that Richard Anderson, a division manager in the Development Services Department, was using his city computer to help him with his other job as an instructor for what…

Monday, January 6, 2020 by Jo Clifton

After years of service, Slusher retires from city

After nine years on City Council, about 18 months at Austin Energy and more than 12 years as Austin Water’s assistant director for environmental affairs and conservation, Daryl Slusher hung up his city spurs last week, retiring on Dec. 31.…

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