Stories by Seth Smalley

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…

Wednesday, August 4, 2021 by Seth Smalley

County mobilizes to reach residents who qualify for emergency rental assistance

On Aug. 3, the Travis County Commissioners Court fielded updates on the national Emergency Rental Assistance Program from Sherri Fleming with County Health and Human Services. The program concerns rental and utility assistance programs and initiatives made available from federal…

Tuesday, August 3, 2021 by Seth Smalley

As breakthrough cases rise, top doc stresses vaccine’s importance

The Travis County Commissioners Court and Austin City Council members will convene a special called meeting today amid growing concerns about the highly infectious Covid-19 Delta variant and a shortage of ICU beds. On Monday, Austin Public Health reported that…

Friday, July 30, 2021 by Seth Smalley

South Austin tenants aren’t getting evicted but still want answers

Tenants of the Rosemont at Oak Valley apartment complex, who had previously been given abrupt (though now rescinded) notices of their imminent evictions, still have unanswered questions for the Housing Authority of Travis County. Though the Housing Authority has since…

Wednesday, July 28, 2021 by Seth Smalley

County looks to expand jail-diversion programs

The Travis County Commissioners Court discussed the prospect Tuesday of expanding the scope of the Austin-Travis County Sobering Center to include aid (in the form of jail diversion) to those experiencing homelessness and mental health issues. Currently, the Sobering Center…

Thursday, July 22, 2021 by Seth Smalley

County to provide short-term lodging and repairs for Rosemont residents

On Tuesday, the Travis County Commissioners Court revisited the situation at the Rosemont apartment complex in South Austin, where over 80 families we had been given abrupt notice they would have to leave their homes by the end of the…

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 by Seth Smalley

Cap Metro fields updates on Project Connect

During the July 19 meeting of the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors, members fielded a discussion and presentation regarding Project Connect. The presentation covered prominent dates; Blue, Orange and Red rail line updates; and MetroRapid bus line updates.…

Tuesday, July 20, 2021 by Seth Smalley

Fire/EMS station construction on pace despite pandemic

In 2017, a service needs analysis of the Austin Fire Department led to the City Council-sanctioned creation of a six-year plan to construct and staff five fire/EMS stations in the areas of most need: Del Valle/Moore’s Crossing, Travis Country, Loop…

Monday, July 19, 2021 by Seth Smalley

Canyon rimrock complicates reconstruction of Lake Austin boat dock

On July 7, the Environmental Commission approved a variance request to deconstruct and rebuild the Norris boat dock located at 1874 Westlake Drive. Scott Hiers, program manager for the Watershed Protection Department, presented pertinent details to the commission, including site…

Thursday, July 15, 2021 by Seth Smalley

Delta variant may be to blame for rise in hospital admissions

On Tuesday, Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes and Austin Public Health interim Director Adrienne Stirrup updated the Travis County Commissioners Court on Covid-19 and vaccination efforts in the county. “So far, we have not received a confirmed case…

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