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TipSheet: Travis County, 10.3.17

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 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.

18. Consider and take appropriate action on public input received and staff recommendations on Public Improvement District (PID) Policy, including Subchapter B, Affordable and Fair Housing Policy. (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: Last week, we noted that the court appeared to be on the verge of finally adding long-delayed affordable housing considerations to its public improvement district policy. Naturally, County Judge Sarah Eckhardt postponed the discussion until this week’s meeting. We’re going to keep our big mouths shut this time around just to play it safe.

19. Consider and take appropriate action on: a. Financial analysis and modeling of venue tax revenue stream for Travis County b. Austin City Council action regarding using the hotel occupancy tax at its full capacity c. Pursuit of Travis County/City of Austin partnership on eastern Travis County project utilizing the hotel occupancy tax (Commissioner Travillion)

Monitor’s Take: As City Council takes steps to assemble Mayor Steve Adler’s “downtown puzzle,” the county’s financial consultant will deliver to the Commissioners Court the results of a study commissioned earlier this summer. The report will give the court a better understanding of what projects could be funded should the county levy a 2 percent venue tax on hotel guests. Of course, Adler’s plan would render that information moot since he intends for the city to collect the remainder of the legally allowed hotel tax, a scenario that the court will also discuss.

29. Consider and take appropriate action regarding the purchase of helicopters from AgustaWestland Philadelphia Corporation, the highest ranked proposer. (Commissioner Travillion)

Monitor’s Take: Acquiring three new helicopters for STAR Flight’s fleet – along with extra parts and service – will set the county back $33,511,179.48. The good news is the contract allows for a trade-in of the emergency responders’ existing whirlybirds, which could take almost $9 million off of the purchase price. Still, helicopters: Not cheap!

35. Receive update from Travis County Clerk’s Office regarding process for adopting a new voting system in Travis County. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Not to be confused with STAR Flight, STAR-Vote is the name of the new voting system that the County Clerk’s Office has been developing for years. County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir has said in the past that she expects the thing to be ready for prime time come the 2020 presidential elections, but the process seems to have hit a snag lately with the court’s rejection last week of all responses to a request for proposal to actually build the STAR-Vote system. DeBeauvoir’s team is expected to update the court on a revised timeline during discussion of this item.

36. Consider and take appropriate action on the Order of the Travis County Commissioners Court Amending the Travis County Healthcare District Financial Policies for FY18. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: After months and months and months of the recurring controversy over Central Health’s transparency, something of a climax appears at hand. Of course, it feels like we’ve said that several times in the past, but we really mean it this time. Among the new requirements in the draft financial policy that the hospital district will have to abide by should the court approve it is a stipulation requiring Central Health to undergo a thorough, third-party performance review at least every five years.

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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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