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TipSheet: Travis County, 10.11.16

Tuesday, October 11, 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.

3. Consider request from the Civil and Family Courts for two additional District Courts in FY18. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: The overcrowding at the Heman Marion Sweatt Courthouse is only getting worse in the wake of voters’ rejection last year of a brand new facility to replace the 85-year-old building. Now judges and staff are requesting the creation of two new district courts to keep up with growing demand. The county hasn’t created a new district court since 2005. Since then, the population has increased by more than a third. While it’s hard to conceive that the Commissioners Court will reject this request, we’ll be keeping an eye or three on where and how the new courts could be located.

9. Consider and take appropriate action on the Civil & Family Courts Capacity Project. (This item may be taken into Executive Session under the Consultation with Attorney and Real Property exceptions.) (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: A top official told the Austin Monitor last week that the Court will weigh in on recent decisions made by the Citizens Advisory Committee to weed out potential civil courthouse sites from consideration. As we reported, among the properties the committee chose to nix are the two county-owned pieces of land directly adjacent to the Sweatt Courthouse.

12. Consider and take appropriate action on increases to fees associated with plats and utility permits. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: The fees the county charges to offset regulatory review of development are set to increase, in part, according to staff, because of the increased volume of requests. The proposed increases will be pegged to inflation, meaning that the increases will vary by the year each individual fee was last set. For example, fees set in 2013 will increase by 1.7 percent while those established in 2004 are expected to jump by 25.5 percent. It takes money to make money!

29. Consider and take appropriate action on adoption of the Travis County Legislative Agenda for the upcoming Regular Session of the 85th Texas Legislature. (Commissioner Shea & Commissioner Daugherty)

Monitor’s Take: Mark your calendar for Jan. 10. Then immediately mark May 29. The former is the beginning of the next regular session of the Texas Legislature, while the latter is its final day. Depending on your outlook, one of those will be a better day than the other. Meanwhile, Travis County will go into the session with its legislative agenda, the draft of which includes opposition to unfunded mandates, and support for more funding of social services in the county. We have to imagine county staff are very much looking forward to May 29.

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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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