Stories by Jo Clifton

Friday, September 20, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Urban Renewal Board extended for just nine months

City Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison expressed serious reservations about the need to continue Austin’s Urban Renewal Agency and its board during Wednesday’s Council work session and again at Thursday’s Council meeting.In the end, she convinced her colleagues to extend the…

Thursday, September 19, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Asian American center plan could include Rutherford Lane campus

At today’s meeting, City Council will likely direct City Manager Spencer Cronk and his staff to come up with a proposal to incorporate the expansion of the Asian American Resource Center into a master plan for the center as well…

Wednesday, September 18, 2019 by Jo Clifton

City facing challenges in changing sidewalks

When Stephanie Hayden, director of Austin Public Health, sent out a memo last Friday explaining improvements the city was making to the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, she underlined one sentence: “Please note the sidewalk construction is scheduled to…

Friday, September 13, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Advocates cheer abortion aid funding; Zimmerman sues city

As city leaders and advocates for reproductive choice gathered for a press conference Thursday morning, most of the conversation focused on how Austin became the first city in the country to allocate funding for logistical support, such as transportation and…

Thursday, September 12, 2019 by Jo Clifton

$7.7 million added to housing trust fund

Council agreed during Tuesday’s budget meeting to more than double the funds in the city’s housing trust fund, by adding $5 million for rental housing development assistance and $2.7 million for a new home repair program. The trust fund now…

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Cronk promises employee pay raises next year

Austin city employees were expecting a 2.5 percent pay raise for Fiscal Year 2020 from the time staff’s proposed budget was revealed. But many of them, after reading about the 3.5 percent tax cap imposed by the state Legislature, were…

Tuesday, September 10, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Auditors report on community policing efforts

The Austin Police Department has made considerable progress in implementing recommendations from the 2016 Matrix Consulting Group study on community policing, according to an audit update from the city auditor’s office recently provided to the mayor and City Council.The report…

Friday, September 6, 2019 by Jo Clifton

New rules put pressure on land use commissions

Operating under new rules as a result of the so-called “shot clock bill,” members of the Zoning and Platting Commission and the Planning Commission will be under pressure to rapidly make decisions about whether to approve or reject subdivision development…

Thursday, September 5, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Council looks at police, fire department budgets

At Council’s final budget work session on Wednesday, Deputy Chief Financial Officer Ed Van Eenoo told Council members he had learned that the city would have about $2.4 million more than anticipated when staff prepared the original budget of $4.2…

Thursday, August 29, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Garrison Park zoning change wins initial approval

At last week’s meeting, Council narrowly approved a zoning change to allow six townhomes to be built in the midst of a small single-family neighborhood in South Austin. The vote to change zoning from Family Residence (SF-3) to Urban Family…

Wednesday, August 28, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Austin police pension fund facing trouble

The Austin Police Department’s retirement system is in considerable trouble, with actuaries predicting that the fund will run out of money within 50 years unless the city and the officers who are members of the system reach an agreement to…

Friday, August 23, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Divided Council puts off Rainey funding decision

Council Member Kathie Tovo tried mightily on Thursday to convince her colleagues to appropriate funding for projects within the Rainey Street Historic District, as Council promised when it passed a resolution to that effect in 2013.The 2013 resolution directed staff…

Thursday, August 22, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Budget, tax hearings coming soon

Budget and tax rate season is upon us once again. As Deputy Chief Financial Officer Ed Van Eenoo told City Council at Tuesday’s work session, the city will hold three public hearings on the $4.2 billion budget, beginning today at…

Tuesday, August 20, 2019 by Jo Clifton

‘Shot clock’ reviews hit Council’s agenda

Under a looming deadline from the state, Council is set on Thursday to pass changes to the way the city reviews and approves subdivision development applications, despite the possibility of “unfortunate and unintended consequences,” in the words of Council Member…

Friday, August 9, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Council approves hotel tax increase

Despite requests from Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and commissioners Margaret Gómez, Brigid Shea and Jeff Travillion, Austin City Council voted early Friday to approve a 2 percent increase in the city’s Hotel Occupancy Tax, which will allow the city…

Thursday, August 8, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Legislature cuts farmers market fees, costing city

Passage of a little-known bill, Senate Bill 932, which establishes a $100 maximum fee for food sales permits at farmers markets, will cost the Austin Public Health Department about $4,000 in the current fiscal year and an estimated $41,485 in…

Monday, August 5, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Updated: Cronk proposes $4.2 billion budget, more help for homeless

“This year, our mission is to build on these successes while at the same time bracing our city’s budget against the future impacts of the state’s decision to lower the cap on local property tax revenue growth,” City Manager Spencer…

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 by Jo Clifton

SOS, Save Oak Hill sue TxDOT, other agencies

Two different lawsuits were filed Monday seeking to change the Texas Department of Transportation’s plans for the Oak Hill Parkway. One suit emphasizes protection of endangered species; the second seeks to change the design of the parkway, not only for…

Tuesday, July 30, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Two firefighters fired over ‘theft’ of exam

Fire Chief Joel Baker has fired two firefighters, Nicholas Schroeder and Anthony Stewart, who were attending classes on handling hazardous materials, after Schroeder allegedly stole a copy of the final exam and Stewart took photos of it.The class was required…

Friday, July 26, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Golf study recommends changes at Hancock, Muny

A study from the National Golf Foundation recommends that the city consider revamping the aging Hancock Golf Course at 41st and Red River streets and transforming it into a modern golf learning center.This is just one of several recommendations in…

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