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TipSheet: Travis County, 10.17.16

Tuesday, October 18, 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.

8. Consider request from the Criminal Courts for the addition of three new District Courts in FY19. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Last week, it was the Civil and Family Courts asking to create two new judgeships in the Heman Marion Sweatt Courthouse. This week, it’s the Criminal Courts’ turn. A preview of the presentation that court officials will deliver indicates the system has seen an increase in violent crime case  that “tend to result in more jury trials as well as impact the jail population with significantly longer lengths of stay.”

9. Consider and take appropriate action regarding an order amending the Travis County Healthcare District Financial Policies. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: As we reported last week, the Commissioners Court is set to adjust its relationship with the hospital district popularly known as Central Health. The policy change is aimed at bringing a bit more transparency to the district’s operations, particularly among its several spin-off nonprofit organizations. Nonetheless, the activists who have been demanding more accountability at Central Health have already told the Monitor that the proposed changes don’t go far enough.

10. Consider and take appropriate action regarding the proposed changes to Travis County Code Chapter 47, Food Establishment Permits. (Commissioner Shea & Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: At long last, the Court is set to make a final decision on proposed increases to restaurant permit fees. Small establishments will see the biggest increase. Businesses that employ less than 15 people will have to pay $250 for a permit instead of the current $150. And certain food trucks will see their permit fees raised from $60 to $273. The public hearing for the hikes has already closed. This would be the first time in ten years that the Court has raised the fees.

14. Consider and take appropriate action on the Civil & Family Courts Capacity Project, including the Program and Stacking concepts for the Historic Federal Courthouse in Austin for use in completing an application for the acquisition of the building. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Even though a homeless advocacy group is first in line for consideration of taking over the U.S. Courthouse from its federal caretakers, the county is still banking on its own chances. To that end, staff have worked with architectural firm Gensler to put together a 91-page  “program of requirements” that explores the issues and opportunities involved in converting the 80-year-old building into a new home for the county’s Probate Court and offices for the County Clerk.

29. Approve Modification No. 8 to Contract No. 4400001874, Flintco, LLC, for Ronald Earle Office Building and Parking Garage. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Construction on the new office building for the District Attorney’s Office is continuing apace — sort of. The same rain that piled up the delays on the Mopac Improvement Project also washed out the timeline on this project. It was originally intended to be completed in July 2017. Now, it appears we won’t be able to set foot in the new hall of justice until August 2017.

31. Approve contract award for 700 Lavaca Cafeteria Concession Services, RFS No. S1608-07-LD, to the sole respondent, Luby’s Fuddruckers LLC. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Fans of heat lamps and salt will be thrilled to know that the Luby’s Etc. in the basement of 700 Lavaca St. won’t be going anywhere for a while. As for the rest of us, there’s always Gloria’s.

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