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TipSheet: This week’s Council committees

Monday, March 28, 2016 by Elizabeth Pagano

As the Austin Monitor does weekly, we invite you to join our ongoing effort to keep readers up to date with all that is going on at City Hall by providing a tip sheet for City Council committees. As usual, we will be offering highlights of meetings, with links to entire agendas.

Austin Energy Utility Oversight Committee

Monday, March 28, 2016, 9 a.m.

3. General Manager’s report

Monitor’s take: According to the agenda, this item will include information about the utility’s quarterly financial report, system and market operations updates, the ongoing rate review, an upgrade of the automatic enrollment process of the Customer Assistance Program and a response to Council about the recommendations from the Low Income Consumer Advisory Task Force.

4. Briefing on the Austin SHINES (Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV) project.

Monitor’s take: Although it’s just briefing, this item might actually be interesting. We presume it will go into the details of the Department of Energy-sponsored plan to build storage for renewable resources. Back in January, Austin was awarded $4.3 million from the feds, which was the most given to any one city at that time.

5. Briefing on how an electric utility’s cost of service is used in the ratemaking process.

Monitor’s take: The 2016 rate review is on! This looks to provide a little education (don’t say “deep dive”) on one aspect of rate design.

6. Update regarding the process to fill the position of Austin Energy General Manager.

Monitor’s take: Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis left late last year, with a bang. Less than a week later, Cheryl Mele – AE’s chief operating officer and deputy general manager – resigned to become chief operating officer at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Since then, the search to find a new general manager has been on, and we are very interested to see how it’s been going.

Public Safety Committee

Monday, March 28, 4 p.m.

2. Staff briefing on the high-level performance metrics for Emergency Medical Services, Austin Fire Department, Austin Police Department and Austin Code Department.

Monitor’s take: Looking through the backup, this item appears to break down things like number of employees, vacancies, budget, savings and call response times for the three public safety departments, from January until March.

3. Staff briefing, invited testimony, and policy discussion regarding the coyote policy within the City of Austin.

Monitor’s take: Yeah, we’re here for coyote policy. The last time we took a look at the region’s coyote policy, it was from the Travis County side of things and, then, the city’s response to the county. Bottom line: The coyote alliance is breaking down, and we are looking forward to the update.

4. Staff briefing, invited testimony, and policy discussion regarding Body Worn Cameras

Monitor’s take: Austin has about $3 million set aside for police body-worn cameras, though a lot of the details about the cameras continue to be worked out. Nonetheless, the Austin Police Dapartment is moving forward with a pilot program (as of a couple of weeks ago) with the expectation that Council will soon consider a full contract. (The original plan was to have that contract ready by May of this year, which is still the expectation.)

5. Staff briefing, invited testimony, and policy discussion regarding the 2015 Racial Profiling Report and patrol staffing levels.

Monitor’s take: This annual report is required under state law, but given the makeup of this particular committee, we are hoping for a more interesting conversation than required reports usually yield. We will let you know if that comes to pass, of course, but the insatiably curious can read the entire thing here, in the meantime.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Austin Energy Utility Oversight Committee: The Austin City Council committee on Austin Energy was created in May 2013 to provide oversight of the city's electric utility. It's creation was marked by political maneuvering that ultimately resulted in a committee comprised of every member of the Austin City Council.

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