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TipSheet: City Council, 5.19.16

Thursday, May 19, 2016 by Elizabeth Pagano

City Council will hold its regular meeting Thursday. Below is a list of items we’re watching. In the interest of space, we’ve decided not to post the entire agenda. The Office of the City Clerk posts a copy on its website, here.

3. Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 15-9 relating to single-family residential customer water bill adjustments.

Monitor’s take: In May, Council approved a resolution to address complaints about unusually high water bills. Now that resolution has returned in the form of an ordinance, and it appears the fix could come at a cost — backup shows a “worst-case scenario” would have cost the utility about $2.3 million in Fiscal Year 2015-16 and about $1.5 million in Fiscal Year 2014-15. However, the backup also notes that this worst-case scenario is rather unlikely.

11. Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Budget Stabilization Reserve Fund Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20150908-001) to transfer out $418,000 to the General Fund; and amending the General Fund Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20150908-001) to transfer in $418,000 from the Budget Stabilization Reserve Fund Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20150908-001); and to appropriate $418,000 to increase expenditures in the Parks and Recreation Department Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20150908-001) to hire temporary and seasonal staff for the 2016 summer swim season.

Monitor’s take: This budget change is a result of the living wage standard recently approved by Council. Though the living wage does not apply to those who work six months or less, the Parks and Recreation Department would like to change that. A memo from Parks Director Sara Hensley notes that hires have to be certified and trained, nonetheless, and the discrepancy in their pay is negatively impacting morale as well as making it hard to find lifeguards.

37. Approve an ordinance on first reading granting a taxicab franchise to ATX Coop Taxi.

Monitor’s take: Though likely to only further inflame the ongoing, never-ending Proposition 1 debate, this ordinance is actually a result of a resolution from a ways back. A year ago, in fact, Council asked the city manager to move forward with a worker-owned taxi co-op, and here we are today.

41. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to identify strategies to support companies seeking to expand an existing or new business to meet the demand for transportation options.

Monitor’s take: Oh, never mind. Let’s talk about Prop 1 here. This resolution kind of irritated a lot of people on social media yesterday. Prior, it rankled a couple of Council members, which you can read about here.

42. Approve a resolution providing additional direction to the City Manager with respect to the management of the Housing Trust Fund.

Monitor’s take: Discussed at Tuesday’s work session, this proposal would divert more property taxes into the city’s Housing Trust Fund, essentially. For a more thorough rundown, see this Austin-American Statesman piece.

49. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to adopt and implement the Vision Zero Action Plan, which is focused on reducing fatal and serious injury crashes in the City, and provide future reports to Council with analysis of additional resources needed and steps taken to implement the Vision Zero Action Plan.

54. Conduct a public hearing and consider adopting the Vision Zero Action Plan, which is focused on reducing fatal and serious injury crashes in the City.

Monitor’s take: The Vision Zero plan is, like the agenda says, a report that is focused on reducing fatal and serious accidents in the city. For more information, we can’t recommend KUT’s excellent Road to Zero series enough.

51. Update from the Flood Mitigation Task Force.

Monitor’s take: Earlier this week, the flood mitigation task force presented its (long) report to the Public Utilities Committee. Today, there will be an update to the whole Council. Since the publication of our article, we’ve become aware of some strong divisions on the task force, so this could get interesting.

55. Conduct a public hearing and consider a request by Andy Oliver, agent for Torchy’s Tacos, located at 1822 S. Congress Ave., for a waiver of the distance requirement of City Code Section 4-9-4(A), which requires a minimum of 300 feet between a business that sells alcoholic beverages and a public school. (District 9).

Monitor’s take: Though this will likely be postponed, it was also (one of) the subject(s) of an Austin Interfaith meeting held Wednesday. Torchy’s reps are looking forward to a peaceful compromise, but there sure is a non-zero chance that might not happen.

59. Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 related to the multifamily residence highest density (MF-6) district zoning regulations.

Monitor’s take: Council has postponed this amendment a couple of times. To refresh your memory, though, here is what happened when it was at the Planning Commission.

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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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