Stories by Seth Smalley

Wednesday, September 22, 2021 by Seth Smalley

TxDOT brings contentious interstate expansion plan to county

On Tuesday, the Travis County Commissioners Court heard from Texas Department of Transportation engineer Tucker Ferguson, who discussed progress on the state transportation department’s plan to add two managed HOV lanes in each direction on Interstate 35 through downtown Austin.…

Friday, September 17, 2021 by Seth Smalley

Three-quarters of county employees to work from home for good

The Travis County Commissioners Court is moving ahead with an unprecedented initiative to dramatically increase the number of county teleworkers, with the lofty goal of having 75 percent of county employees permanently working from home. In June, the county hired…

Wednesday, September 15, 2021 by Seth Smalley

County pledges more than $100 million to eradicate homelessness in three years

On Tuesday, the Travis County Commissioners Court committed $110 million in federal funding toward housing the homeless. The money, sourced from a $247 million chunk of the American Rescue Plan Act funds designated for county assistance, will likely be administered…

Tuesday, September 14, 2021 by Seth Smalley

CAMPO approves TxDOT’s transportation plan amendment requests

On Monday, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Transportation Policy Board voted to approve two of the Texas Department of Transportation’s requests to amend the 2045 Regional Transportation Plan and the Transportation Improvement Program. The RTP addresses general congestion and…

Friday, September 3, 2021 by Seth Smalley

Commissioners approve state-mandated changes to leave policy

Three bills were signed into law during the past legislative session that will change or add to existing leave policies for county employees. House Bill 1589 provides seven days of paid leave for public officers and employees engaged in certain types…

Thursday, September 2, 2021 by Seth Smalley

County may donate rental assistance funds to city for speedier distribution

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Travis County Commissioners Court continued to brainstorm ways to spend 65 percent of a federal rental assistance allocation before a U.S. Treasury deadline at the end of September threatens to rescind unused funds. If the 65…

Wednesday, September 1, 2021 by Seth Smalley

Discussion continues on RFID tracking systems in county jails

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Travis County Commissioners Court, commissioners deliberated on a potential $4.3 million investment in a radio-frequency identification wristband tracking system for the county jails. While County Judge Andy Brown raised questions about whether the hefty price tag…

Friday, August 27, 2021 by Seth Smalley

Environmental commissioners brush up on tree preservation 101

On Wednesday, the Environmental Commission revisited heritage tree ordinances, general preservation efforts going on around Austin and the rules for protecting and building around trees, with city arborist Naomi Rotramel and Community Tree Preservation Division Manager Keith Mars. Austin’s original…

Thursday, August 26, 2021 by Seth Smalley

New perks just dropped for county workers who get vaccinated

The Travis County Commissioners Court passed an initiative Tuesday offering incentives to county employees who get their Covid-19 shots. The enticement takes the shape of two days of paid personal leave to all employees who can show their double-signed vaccination…

Wednesday, August 25, 2021 by Seth Smalley

As federal rental assistance deadline looms, county must use it or lose it

The Travis County Commissioners Court is scrambling to spend Emergency Rental Assistance Program money before a federal Treasury deadline threatens to reclaim the funds. According to Treasury policy, municipalities must return rental assistance money to the federal government if 65…

Monday, August 23, 2021 by Seth Smalley

Commissioners ponder putting millions into jail revamp

If the Sheriff’s Office gets its budget request granted, inmates in Travis County correctional facilities may soon be sporting radio-frequency identification wristbands to track their whereabouts within the jail at all times. According to the Sheriff’s Office, it intends to…

Thursday, August 19, 2021 by Seth Smalley

Cap Metro unveils funding forecast for next five years

On Wednesday, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors took a long look at the upcoming fiscal year, from the projected costs of Project Connect’s rail lines to expanded bus routes and their associated infrastructural costs. Over the next…

Wednesday, August 18, 2021 by Seth Smalley

Commissioners approve the creation of Emergency Services jobs

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Commissioners Court, county budget chief Travis Gatlin delivered updates about the 2022 budget and made specific requests to finance staff positions from the 2021 budget. Additional budget hearings will continue later this week, where the court…

Friday, August 13, 2021 by Seth Smalley

County to turn off lights in summer and fall to protect songbirds

The Travis County Commissioners Court passed a resolution Tuesday that will mandate county buildings to turn off all nonessential lights from 11 p.m.-6 a.m. during key migration periods for migrating songbirds. The Lights Off initiative will be in effect annually…

Thursday, August 12, 2021 by Seth Smalley

Commissioners extend deadline on adult correctional systems report

The Travis County Commissioners Court unanimously voted to grant a 45-day extension to a forthcoming report about the Travis County adult correctional system. The report is being prepared by a collaborative group including Justice Planning, Health and Human Services, and…

Wednesday, August 11, 2021 by Seth Smalley

Property group wants to help Rosemont residents, but won’t put anything in writing

At the Tuesday meeting of the Travis County Commissioners Court, Patrick Howard with the Housing Authority of Travis County announced that the board of directors of the Strategic Housing Finance Corporation unanimously voted against an agreement drafted for, and proposed…

Tuesday, August 10, 2021 by Seth Smalley

TxDOT and critics at loggerheads over plan to widen I-35

At Friday’s special meeting of the City Council Mobility Committee, residents aired their concerns to a quorum of City Council members about a controversial TxDOT plan to significantly widen the portion of Interstate 35 that runs through Austin. The complaints…

Monday, August 9, 2021 by Seth Smalley

Mobility Committee hears displacement concerns

At the Mobility Committee meeting on Friday, City Council members fielded discussion about both Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Project Connect and the Texas Department of Transportation’s involvement in the Interstate 35 expansion plan. Meanwhile, community members calling in to the…

Friday, August 6, 2021 by Seth Smalley

Coming soon to Del Valle: More money for dual-language pre-K

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Travis County Commissioners Court, commissioners voted to make a portion of American Rescue Plan Act funding available to increase access to dual-language and full-day pre-K in Del Valle in southeast Travis County. The request initially…

Thursday, August 5, 2021 by Seth Smalley

County looks to amend development code to increase fire protections

On July 27, Travis County commissioners fielded discussion regarding the Stone Ridge Estates subdivision and the Flint Rock Circle subdivision. Both developments are located in far west Travis County, off of Highway 71 in Precinct 3. While the discussion was…

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