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TipSheet: Austin City Council 8.06.15

Thursday, August 6, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano

Welcome back! The Austin City Council will have 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. The City Clerk’s office posts a copy on its website, here.

3. Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Wildland Conservation Fund Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20140908-001) to increase appropriations by $196,420 and decrease the ending balance by the same amount for the purchase of real estate for the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. Related to Item #24.

Monitor’s take: As we reported on Wednesday, this item would allow the city to move forward with the purchase of about 10 acres in the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. Council Member Zimmerman was not a fan at Tuesday’s worksession.

4. Approve an ordinance amending Chapter 2-2 of the City Code relating to the electronic filing of information in campaign finance reports.

Monitor’s take: Though it’s a compromise from the original proposal, which Council worried would cost too much, this ordinance would (finally) offer an update to the current campaign filing process. Currently, campaign finance reports are scanned and placed online as unsearchable PDFs. If this ordinance passes, work to establish a database that is public, searchable, downloadable and sortable can start. At a recent Ethics Review Commission meeting, City Clerk Jannette Goodall was hopeful that the system would be ready for testing by early next year.

7. Authorize the use of the Competitive Sealed Proposal method for construction improvements to the Oakwood Cemetery Chapel.

Monitor’s take: This item is, ostensibly, about restoring a historic chapel in one of the city-run cemeteries in Austin. However, it has sparked a small debate about the appropriate use of cemetery facilities, which we wrote about last month.

19. Authorize a payment not to exceed $2,406,000 for a judgment in Harry Whittington v. City of Austin, Cause No. D-1-GV-07 in the 353rd District Court of Travis County. Related to Item #20.

20. Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Operating Budget of the Liability Reserve Fund (Ordinance No. 20140908-001) to increase the total requirements by $2,406,000 to a total of $7,006,000 to pay a judgment. Related to Item #19.

Monitor’s Take: Though this isn’t something that the Monitor has covered in the past, it is another chapter in Harry Whittington’s (very) successful fight against the city for building a parking garage on his downtown land. The fight began in 1999. Whittington is, famously, also the man that former Vice President Dick Cheney shot in the face during a hunting trip.

43. Approve a resolution relating to the location of Fun Fun Fun Fest on Auditorium Shores.

55. Approve a resolution addressing the use of a portion of the designated off-leash area of Vic Mathias Shores at Town Lake Metropolitan Park during the 2015 Fun Fun Fun Fest.

Monitor’s Take: Oh boy. Though Council postponed intervention in the hopes that the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and event organizers could reach some agreement, it appears that Council will have to weigh in on the footprint of Fun Fun Fun Fest. Organizers say that footprint includes a portion of the off-leash dog park, and per an earlier agreement. PARD continues to disagree. To complicate complicated matters, the original resolution (Item 43) also discussed the possibility of working on a multiyear agreement. The new resolution, which is what Council will actually consider (Item 55), does not.

44. Approve a resolution relating to the base-wage increase for municipal non-sworn full-time City of Austin employees for Fiscal Year 2015-2016.

Monitor’s Take: As we reported on Monday, this resolution from the office of Council Member Don Zimmerman could cut raises for city employees. At Tuesday’s work session, Mayor Steve Adler pushed for the conversation to be part of the larger budget talks that will take place later this month. Zimmerman disagreed.

48. Approve a resolution relating to the Land Development Code Advisory Group and the additional appointment of a representative from an independent school district.

Monitor’s Take: It looks like the CodeNEXT Advisory Group is expanding again, this time, from 17 to 18 members, with the addition of an AISD representative. Council also voted to expand the group in May, from 11 members.

51. Approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 3 regarding the regulation of the treatment of elephants.

Monitor’s take: Though much of what is proposed under this law is already illegal under state law, the proposed city ordinance would prohibit the use of bull hooks on elephants. At the work session, Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo ask that if Council decides to delay the ordinance, that it not be delayed past 2017, when elephants will no longer be a part of the circus.

52. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to create and publish a Taxpayer Impact Statement.

Monitor’s take: This resolution, which comes out of Council Member Ellen Troxclair’s office, would direct the city manager to create a taxpayer impact statement which would include definitions for key terms, charts with information about tax bills, fees and utility bills. The resolution would also require the City Manager to post the statement in local newspapers two weeks prior to public budget hearings.

69. Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 toadd notification and meeting requirements to the East Riverside Corridor Regulating Plan amendment process.

Monitor’s take: This code amendment will most likely be postponed, in order to give the Planning Commission and the Codes and Ordinances subcommittee time to weigh in.

70. Conduct a public hearing and consider an appeal by Brian Carrico regarding the Planning Commission’s denial of a conditional use permit for a hotel use at 1207 E. Cesar Chavez Street (District 3).

Monitor’s take: As reported by the Statesman, this appeal has been withdrawn.

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