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TipSheet: Travis County, 1.15.19

Tuesday, January 15, 2019 by Ryan Thornton

The Travis County Commissioners Court meets every Tuesday at 9 a.m. To help our readers stay informed, each week we offer a selection of interesting items from the voting session agenda. The entire agenda can be found at the Travis County website.

2. Receive comments regarding changes to Travis County Code Chapters 464 & 482 to reflect National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Atlas 14 rainfall intensity data. (Commissioners Travillion & Shea)

Monitor’s Take: Regarding the study presented to the court by Public Works on Oct. 9, 2018, the public is now invited to comment on Travis County’s adoption of the new rainfall intensity standards. These new standards led to the addition of $22 million to the 2017-2022 Bond Program and will have a fiscal impact on future construction projects as well.

3. Receive comments regarding the temporary restriction of all traffic on Old Gregg Lane for construction beginning on or about January 21, 2019 and continuing through January 23, 2019 or until work is complete, in Precinct Two. (Action Item 25) (Commissioner Shea)

5. Receive comments regarding the temporary closure to reconfigure the intersection for an extension of Vail Divide Road to the south, beginning on or after January 15, 2019, and continuing through December 31, 2019, or until construction is completed of Vail Divide Road, in Precinct Three. (Action Item 27) (Commissioner Daugherty)

Monitor’s Take: The narrow bridge at Old Gregg Lane will not be able to accommodate construction equipment and traffic, causing a potential detour of almost one mile from Jan. 21-23 or until completion. The Vail Divide Road project will take much more time, but will only require a detour of about half a mile. No local residents will lose access to their properties. Following public comment Tuesday morning, the court will be taking action on both road closures.

16. Consider and take appropriate action on an order authorizing the issuance and sale of Travis County, Texas Certificates of Obligation, Series 2019A (Limited Tax), in an amount not to exceed $328,500,000. (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: When a proposed family and civil courts complex was rejected by Travis County voters in 2015, the court was pressed to move forward with a new facility using $16.1 million of currently available dollars, $55.1 million in future collected revenue and Certificates of Obligation. The court signed an agreement with Travis County Courthouse Development Partners LLC and designated a downtown site for the facility in July 2018. The debt issuance is expected to raise annual property taxes for the average taxable homestead an average of $35.11 over the entire debt term.

17. Consider and take appropriate action on an order amending Travis County Code Chapter 22, Debt Policy. (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: While the Planning and Budget Office told the court last week that these changes are unlikely to impact actual policy in the coming years, County Judge Sarah Eckhardt praised the efforts of the office to put the county’s debt policy into clear terms for the benefit of the public and elected officials alike.

23. Consider and take appropriate action on the Transportation & Natural Resources (TNR) Road & Bridge FY19 Work Plan. (Commissioners Travillion & Shea)

Monitor’s Take: The sum of road and bridge projects TNR is planning to undertake in Fiscal Year 2019 are listed in its 51-page work plan. These include 78 miles of surface treatment and 30 miles of edge/shoulder repair.

24. Consider and take appropriate action on a request to create an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Task Force. (Commissioner Shea)

Monitor’s Take: TNR is proposing an internal task force to look into possible EPP policies for Travis County over the course of six months beginning in February. The policies would guide county purchasing to minimize environmental impact and promote use of sustainable materials.

29. Consider and take appropriate action on including the creation of a Criminal District Attorney’s Office in the legislative agenda. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: The court discussed the potential benefits of merging misdemeanor and felony charges into a single criminal district attorney’s office on Dec. 11, 2018. Due to disagreements about the best way to accomplish the merger, the court decided to consult staff and take time to consider the possibilities before bringing the item back for discussion. The main question left on the dais in December was whether to move forward with a partial merger, designating a county civil attorney to manage civil cases, or to approve a full merger, where civil cases would be handled by the criminal district attorney’s office with the use of hired outside counsel when appropriate.

30. Consider and take appropriate action regarding: a. Board and committee assignments and appointments for Commissioners Court members b. Commissioners Court retreat, for the discussion of: 1. Travis County Vision, Mission, Guiding Principles, and Goals 2. Travis County Work Plan (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Last week, the court explored a variety of new agenda items for its annual Commissioners Court retreat to be held in February or March. The commissioners will attempt to finalize a date for the retreat and vote on the new agenda items and any financial impacts Tuesday morning.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Travis County Commissioners Court: The legislative body for Travis County. It includes representatives from the four Travis County Precincts, as well as the County Judge. The County Judge serves as the chair of the Court.

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