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TipSheet: Austin City Council 3.31 & 4.2

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 by Michael Kanin

Council continues its run of brief (by comparison) voting session agendas.

As always, the Austin City Council meets in an agenda work session Tuesday and for its regular meeting Thursday. Below is a list of items we’re watching for the upcoming week. In the interest of space, we’ve decided not to post the entire agenda here. The City Clerk’s office hosts a copy at its website, here.

4. Approve a resolution amending Resolution No. 20130523-019 to authorize the Circuit Events Local Organizing Committee to act on behalf of the City for the Texas Major Event Trust Fund, or in the alternative, the Texas Event Trust Fund, for the purposes of: conducting economic studies, submitting applications, and submitting any required funding, to the Texas Comptroller, or the Economic Development and Tourism Division, Office of the Governor for the Summer X-Games to be held at the Circuit of the Americas Facility in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Monitor’s Take: This would authorize the CoTA Local Organizing Committee to act on behalf of the City of Austin as it deals with state fund(s) in relation to the 2015, ’16, and ’17 X-Games. Despite the inclusion of the phrase ‘Circuit of the Americas’ here — and the involvement of the Major Event Trust Fund — this shouldn’t be too exciting.

5. Approve an ordinance establishing classifications and positions in the classified service of the Austin Fire Department; creating and eliminating certain positions and repealing Ordinance No. 20140908-004 relating to the Austin Fire Department classifications and positions.

Monitor’s Take: The return of an item that would, ultimately, shed rank and file firefighter positions and add a handful of management positions. Austin Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr caught some flack over the item at Council’s last meeting, where Council Member Don Zimmerman fought hard to have it sent to his Public Safety Committee.

8. Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Parks and Recreation Department Operating Budget Special Revenue Fund (Ordinance No. 20140908-001) to accept and appropriate $65,000 in grant funds from the Asian American Resource Center, Inc. for salary expenses for a City of Austin employee to assist with Asian and Asian-American cultural protocols, programming, and marketing at the City of Austin Asian American Resource Center.

Monitor’s Take: This would allow the Asian-American Resource Center to send funds to the City of Austin that would pay for an employee that would, according to backup materials, “work under the guidance of the Asian American Resource Center, Inc., to manage certain activities at the Center that are aligned with the purposes of the Center.” The activities supported by the position would be “assisting with Asian and Asian-American cultural protocol, programming, and marketing for the Center.” The position would be housed in the city’s Parks Department.

10. Authorize award and execution of a 60-month revenue contract with LONE STAR RIVERBOAT, INC. to provide boat excursion services on Lady Bird Lake for an estimated revenue amount of $150,000, with one 60-month extension option in an estimated amount of $150,000 for a total estimated revenue amount of $300,000.

Monitor’s Take: Council will try again to make a call on whether or not to award a concession to Lone Star Riverboat. As we’ve reported, that firm has had sewage trouble.

12. Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 13-2 relating to requirements for transportation charter services.

Monitor’s Take: Not TNCs (read: Lyft and Uber), but rather charter services, typically van and bus. This looks to be merely clean up action that would correct “some typographical errors” and “further distinguish what regulations apply to charter bus services.” There is ongoing litigation at play. Specific changes can be found here.

14. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to outline plans addressing reform of the City’s development review, inspections and permitting processes, including but not limited to, recommendations from the Zucker Systems Analysis Report.

Monitor’s Take: Zucker Report fallout continues with a move from Mayor Adler to direct City Manager Marc Ott to, by June 30, come back to Council with a set of changes to the city’s planning and zoning apparatus. A Council message board post about the idea (though not much discussion) is here. Our coverage of the Zucker Report, and it’s fallout is here, here, here, here, and here.

15. Approve a resolution initiating a code amendment to mitigate the effects of smoke emissions from restaurants and mobile food vendors near residentially zoned areas.

Monitor’s Take: This has drawn major opposition from the restaurant community, as we reported today.

20. Approve a resolution related to the issuance of a request for proposals for up to 600 megawatts of solar generation.

Monitor’s Take: This would direct management and Austin Energy to include options for both contracting for 600 megawatts of solar generation and “direct ownership” (a plant) of said generation in its requests for proposals for the additional energy. It would also instruct parties to “use the most competitive responses” as part of the their efforts to figure out the affordability of replacing 500 megawatts of energy currently generated by the Decker Lake gas plant when the proposals come back.

26. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to identify funding options from the current budget for five full-time equivalent staff positions for the Mayor’s Office and $25,000 for each Council office for the purpose of providing enhanced constituent services.(Item from Council)

Monitor’s Take: Council gets its first committee-referred item, a redux of Mayor Adler’s attempt to add staff to Council offices. This version would, according to the Audit and Finance Committee report, add 12 FTEs — one for each district office, plus two for the Mayor’s office — at a budget cost of $25,000 each. Our most recent coverage of this item is here.

28. Briefing regarding development review, inspections and permitting processes.

Monitor’s Take: As of 5 p.m. Monday, no files had been posted alongside Council’s agenda for this item. One would assume that it’s related to Zucker.

32. Discuss legal issues related to Mercer et al v. City of Austin et al, Cause No. 1:13-cv-00830, in the United States District Court for the Western Division of Texas (Private consultation with legal counsel — Section 551.071) (Related to July 26, 2013 officer-involved shooting).

Monitor’s Take: This is an Executive Session discussion of the lawsuit related to the officer-involved shooting of Larry Eugene Jackson Jr. Then-APD Detective Charles Kleinert was indicted on a charge of manslaughter in relation to the case.


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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Austin City Council: The Austin City Council is the body with legislative purview over the City of Austin. It offers policy direction, while the office of the City Manager implements administrative actions based on those policies. Until 2012, the body contained seven members, including the city's Mayor, all elected at-large. In 2012, City of Austin residents voted to change that system and now 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.

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