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TipSheet: Austin City Council 5.20.15

Thursday, May 21, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano

The Austin City Council will meet in 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 here. The Office of the City Clerk hosts a copy at its website, here.

2. Approve an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 20141120-014 increasing the percentage-based ad valorem (property) tax exemption on the assessed value of residence homesteads.

Monitor’s take: Judging by the discussion at Wednesday’s budget work session, Council is not quite ready to move forward with a homestead exemption. However, it will probably continue the discussion, and weight the relative merits of a phased-in exemption, at their regular meeting. While Mayor Steve Adler has made it clear that he would like to see a “revenue neutral” phased approach, other Council members have expressed reluctance about that plan (from both sides of the issue.)

5. Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 13-6 to authorize contracting with a private vendor to manage tow truck responses to accident scenes and other police requests for towing, and amending Ordinance No. 20140908-003, relating to nonconsent towing fees. Related to Item #17.

17. Authorize award, negotiation, and execution of a 36-month revenue contract with TEGSO, LLC DBA AUTORETURN, or another qualified offeror to RFP EAD0119REBID, for total management of dispatch, towing, and impound services for the Austin Police Department for estimated revenue of $2,400,000, with three 12-month extension options with an estimated revenue of $800,000 for each extension option, for a total estimated revenue amount of $4,800,000. Related to Item #5.

Monitor’s take: This item, which would change the process for getting tow trucks to accident scenes, is back from the Public Safety Committee. Given vocal opposition in the past and the fact that Council Member Don Zimmerman posted an amendment to the staff ordinance on the City Council Message Board, we are expecting discussion about this one.

44. Briefing on the possibility of filing a challenge petition with the Appraisal Review Board for the Travis Central Appraisal District relating to commercial property values in the city set by the Travis Central Appraisal District.

22. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to file a challenge petition with the Appraisal Review Board relating to the level of appraisals of commercial property values in the city by the Travis Central Appraisal District pursuant to Chapter 41 of the Texas Tax Code.

Monitor’s take: As we reported, yesterday the city released a report showing that Austin commercial property is significantly undervalued. These two items will take a closer look at what options the city has in light of that fact.

23. Approve a resolution directing the city manager to increase the city’s minimum wage for city employees in the FY2015-2016 budget and future budgets.

Monitor’s take: This item from Council Member Greg Casar would direct the city staff to look into raising the minimum wage for city employees. The city’s Living Wage Stakeholder Group has recommended the city adopt a $13.03 hourly wage in Fiscal Year 2016, and attain a living wage of $16.83 by the year 2020.

24. Approve a resolution directing the city manager to take steps to increase opportunities to let dogs out of their kennels while housed at the Austin Animal Center; and to provide a report on long-term options to improve animal welfare at the Austin Animal Center and to increase the Animal Service Office’s online capabilities.

Monitor’s take: We are still awaiting the Animal Services Department’s official response to a recent audit. This item, which would address its findings, seems like a response sponsored by Council Member Greg Casar in the meantime.

26. Approve a resolution increasing the number of members on the Land Development Code Advisory Group.

40. Approve a recommendation to expand the CodeNEXT Advisory Group.

Monitor’s take: We’ve covered the push to expand the CodeNEXT Advisory Group in the past, and this is the Council item that will officially change its membership from 11 members to 15 for the next three months. According to the latest draft, “The City Council members representing Districts 2, 3, 4, and 7 may each nominate one additional member to the Land Development Code Advisory Group. These nominees should include renters and renters’ advocates, green building and landscape architecture professionals, and those with expertise related to the economic impacts of the code rewrite. These nominees must be approved by the full Council, and their terms shall expire in September 2015.”

30. Approve an ordinance on second reading relating to the Austin Cab I, Incorporated d.b.a. Austin Cab taxicab franchise.

31. Approve an ordinance on second reading relating to the Greater Austin Transportation Company, d.b.a. Yellow Cab Company taxicab franchise.

32. Approve an ordinance on second reading relating to the Lone Star Cab Company taxicab franchise.

33. Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 13-2 relating to ground transportation passenger service requirements.

34. Approve a resolution directing the city manager to explore the feasibility of a fourth taxi cab franchise.

Monitor’s take: Cabs are back. We’ve previously covered the reevaluation of the taxicab franchise agreements, and the possibility of a worker-owned co-op here, here, here and here.

39. Authorize execution of an amendment to the August 2013 Parkland Improvement and Use Agreement with the West Austin Youth Association regarding Lamar Beach and Town Lake Metropolitan Park.

42. Authorize negotiation and execution of a 50-year license agreement with DECKER LAKE GOLF, LLC to provide funding, design, development, management, and maintenance services for a golf course at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park. (THE PUBLIC COMMENT FOR THIS ITEM WAS HELD AND CLOSED ON NOVEMBER 20, 2014).

Monitor’s take: The seemingly endless discussion about whether or not to build two golf courses on park land continues. We’ve covered this one plenty, most recently here and here.

52. Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending City Code Chapters 15-2 and 15-9 relating to the drainage charge.

Monitor’s take: Drainage fees are set to go up. We covered the most recent news about that today (see above) and broke news about the proposed change way back in December.

48. Conduct a public hearing and consider an appeal by Daniel Llanes, regarding the Planning Commission’s approval of a variance from City Code Section 25-2-721(B)(1), which prohibits the construction of a building or parking area within the primary setback of the Waterfront Overlay in the Red Bluff Subdistrict (District 3).

Monitor’s Take: We expect this will be postponed again, but here’s the recap: Though officially settled at the Planning Commission, twice, neighbor and contact team member Daniel Llanes has now appealed the decision to allow construction in the Waterfront Overlay himself. Though fairly unusual, this isn’t a huge surprise, as neighborhood opposition to the hotel has been consistent.

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