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TipSheet: City Council, 5.24.18

Thursday, May 24, 2018 by Elizabeth Pagano

Welcome to this week’s TipSheet. Here are the items we have our eye on. 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.

Item 6: Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 15-9 (Utility Service Regulations) relating to service line extensions, water service termination, and unexpected high water use and leaks.

Monitor’s Take: More about water bills. This item tunes up a number of water-service-related areas of the code, including more changes to contested bills. This could change city laws so that customers who repair leaks are credited for 100 percent of the amount of water consumed over their expected volume and changing the requirements for those who contest bills, and how customers can seek adjustments to their bills. Much more on that here.

Item 11: Approve a resolution appointing Mayor Steve Adler as Chair of the Board of Directors for Tax Increment Financing Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) No. 17 and appointing City Council as the Board of Directors for the TIRZ (Related to Items 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 67, and TIF #1).

Item 12: Approve an ordinance approving Amendment No. 2 to the Project and Financing Plan for Tax Increment Financing Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) No. 17 to update current project design and project cost estimates, to extend the length of time in which the TIRZ operates, and to provide the most recent estimates of underlying funding sources that are anticipated to pay for the construction of projects within the Waller Creek District. The projects are proposed to be expanded to include parks, stream and trail improvements to enhance the developed land in the Waller Creek District. (Related to items 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 67, and TIF #1).

Item 13: Approve an ordinance authorizing negotiation and execution of an amendment to the Waller Creek District Joint Design, Development, Management and Operation Agreement and related documents between the City of Austin, Waller Creek Conservancy, and the Waller Creek Local Government Corporation concerning the revitalization of the Waller Creek District; approving the Amended Design Plan; and waiving certain City Code provisions relating to naming of features and new facilities within the District in furtherance of the agreements between the parties. (Related to Items 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 67, and TIF #1).

Item 14: Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Parks and Recreation Department Capital Budget (Ordinance No. 20170913-001) to increase appropriations by $25,000,000 for improvements to parkland in the Waller Creek District. (Related to Items 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 67, and TIF #1).

Item 15: Approve a resolution declaring the City of Austin’s official intent to reimburse itself from proceeds of certificates of obligations to be issued for the Chain of Parks and related infrastructure in the Waller Creek District in the total amount of $25,000,000. (Related to Items 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 67, and TIF #1).

Item 16: Approve a resolution amending the Waller Creek Local Government Corporation’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws to appoint one additional City Manager designee as a director to the board of the corporation from the City of Austin (Related to Items 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 67, and TIF #1).

Item 67: Conduct a public hearing on Amendment No. 2 to the Project and Financing Plan of the Waller Creek Tax Increment Financing Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) No. 17 to update current project design and project cost estimates, to extend the length of time in which the TIRZ operates, and to provide the most recent estimates of underlying funding sources that are anticipated to pay for the design, construction, and operations and maintenance of projects within the district. The projects proposed within Amendment No. 2 include park, stream, and trail improvements to enhance the developed land in the Waller Creek District. (Related to Items 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and TIF #1).

Monitor’s Take: These seven items mean that it’s officially Waller Creek TIF Day at City Council. Basically, these will all work together to expand (in terms of time – to Sept. 30, 2041) the tax increment financing reinvestment zone that will fund/is funding the rehab of Waller Creek and Waterloo Park (a “35-acre chain of parks”). Item 67 is a public hearing, so it’s pretty likely these will all be heard together after 4 p.m. (Though one never knows.) According to the backup documents: The current estimated total cost of the project is $355 million, including operations and maintenance, through 2041. Of this total, an estimated $246 million is capital cost and $110 million of that capital cost is proposed to be added to the Reinvestment Zone Financing Plan in this amendment. (And here’s a bunch more information, for the interested.)

Item 19: Approve adoption of the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center Master Plan.

Monitor’s Take: A master plan is one thing – a plan – but attached to this particular plan is a steep price tag. MACC Board members are seeking $40 million for renovation and expansion of the center. And that money is most likely to come through a bond election. Council hasn’t decided on the bond package yet, so this one has the potential to kick off a discussion about that whole deal too.

Item 22: Discuss and take appropriate action to establish the process and procedures for conducting the City Council deliberations and subsequent action on the proposed comprehensive revision of the Land Development Code, commonly referred to as ‘CodeNEXT’.

Item 37: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to prepare draft language for all necessary ordinances, actions and approvals to place the CodeNext petition-sponsored ordinance on the ballot.

Monitor’s Take: CodeNEXT is coming for real, y’all. Will the discussion about the upcoming Council discussion be longer than the discussion itself? That remains to be seen – but add Item 22 to that log. Here’s where things stood on Tuesday and here’s the latest from Mayor Steve Adler, though nothing is set in stone (or … paper?) yet. And then there’s the petition which, of course, has the ability to undermine all of those careful deliberations. Council’s vote on Item 37 will determine whether the vote about whether to vote on CodeNEXT will be on the ballot. Here’s the latest on that.

Item 35: Approve a resolution directing the Manager to construct, build, or establish interim fire stations; to include funds to staff the interim fire stations in the recommended 2018-2019 budget; and, to develop a plan to fund, construct, and staff permanent fire stations.

Monitor’s Take: Meanwhile, some Austinites are facing higher insurance rates because of an inadequate number of fire stations. This resolution, sponsored by Council Member Delia Garza, puts a rush on fixing that very real problem at long last. Here’s a recap from Tuesday, via our partners at KUT.

Item 38: Approve a resolution supporting the City’s efforts related to opioid abuse and directing the City Manager to identify resources necessary to bolster the City’s ongoing efforts and provide related recommendations.

Monitor’s Take: This is a fairly straightforward resolution, which is mostly a confirmation that Austin, too, has been hit by the opioid crisis. To that end, Council will ask the city manager to coordinate with other agencies in looking for solutions. It’s worth noting that the resolution specifically “urges the City Manager to take special consideration of any disproportionate impact upon the Austin music and creative community.”

Item 40: Approve a resolution relating to mortgage assistance programs for low-income households.

Monitor’s Take: Again, this is a fairly straightforward concept. This resolution is another attempt by the city to allow families to remain in their homes and combat low-income displacement, similar to the similar to the city’s Tenant-Based Rental Assistance Program (but for homeowners).

Item 56: C14-2017-0132 – 4515 South Congress Rezoning – District 3 – Approve second and third readings of an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 4515 South Congress Avenue and 134 Sheraton Avenue (Williamson Creek Watershed). Applicant’s Request: To rezone from general commercial services-mixed use-neighborhood plan (CS-MU-NP) combining district zoning and general commercial services-mixed use-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (CS-MU-CO-NP) combining district zoning to general commercial services-mixed use-vertical mixed use building-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (CS-MU-V-CO-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: This rezoning would allow for the construction of 240 apartment units and ground-floor retail. It would also remove a current height limit of 40 feet. Right now, the discussion with the neighborhood is over lighting and emergency access – not mega-compelling, but hey.

Item 68: Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan by adopting the Austin Area Master Community Workforce Plan as an attachment.

Monitor’s Take: This plan is designed to move Austinites into middle-skill jobs through enrollment in training programs, teaching skills and job placement.

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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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