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TipSheet: Travis County, 1.19.16

Tuesday, January 19, 2016 by Caleb Pritchard

The Travis County Commissioners Court meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday. In the interest of space, we’ve decided not to post the entire agenda here. The County Clerk’s office hosts a copy at its website.

6. Receive update from the Capital Area Private Defender Service. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Two weeks ago, representatives from CAPDS told the Commissioners Court that the non-profit provider of legal services to indigent residents would need more money in order to help address mental health needs in the county’s justice system. This week, they’ll be back before the Court to deliver an update on what CAPDS managed to achieve during its first year of existence.

11. Consider and take appropriate action on next steps for Wildhorse Ranch PID petition, including: a. Contractual relationships needed and timeline; b. Work with the City of Austin; c. Prepare a reimbursement agreement; and d. Obtain preliminary feasibility study and solicit services for its independent review. (Judge Eckhardt & Commissioner Davis)

Monitor’s Take: Even as county staff continue to iron out a policy framework to guide the creation and management of public improvement districts, or PIDs, it’s full-speed-ahead for the first development that could score the PID status. During last week’s discussion of the PID policy, Commissioner Ron Davis — in whose precinct the Wildhorse Ranch project will go up — registered his frustration at any attempt to slow down the work which could bring a good chunk of affordable housing just west of Manor.

19. Consider and take appropriate action on the following: a. Adoption of an order relating to a policy for disaster debris management; and b. A policy for debris management after a disaster event providing guidance to County staff and residents, including residents who may seek public assistance in debris cleanup. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: After both of the major flood events in 2015, Transportation and Natural Resources staff had to request guidance from the Commissioners Court in order to determine the extent of debris cleanup, notably whether the county should use public funds to clean up debris on private property. The new policy under consideration essentially formalizes that decision and several other existing practices in order to streamline the county’s response to the next disaster.

23. Ratify Modification No. 13 to Interlocal Agreement No. 4400000375, Austin Travis County Integral Care, for Mental Health Services. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Also related in part to the Court’s recent examination of mental health and the county’s justice and correctional system, this contract modification worth $1.41 million reups through September the county’s partnership with ATCIC, the designated mental health and intellectual and developmental disability authority in the region.

29. Consider and take appropriate action on the creation and adoption of an ethics policy for Travis County government. (Judge Eckhardt & Commissioner Shea)

Monitor’s Take: While several divisions within Travis County have their own established ethics policies, the count as a whole does not. Not to be outdone by other major Texas counties such as El Paso or Harris, Travis County staff are recommending the creation of a workgroup to craft universal guidelines for the County, its divisions, and its employees.

32. Receive briefing and take appropriate action on potential violations by Austin Park, LLC at Navarro Creek Road, Texas 78617, of Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 341 and Travis County Code, Chapter 61A. (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: There’s nothing in the backup material on this agenda item that specifies exactly what “potential violations” are at question here. However, it seems to indicate some premature legal troubles for the outfit that announced last summer it would build, of all things, a “surf park” just east of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Since this item is slated for executive session, the details could remain tantalizingly out of reach pending further journalistic investigation.

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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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