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TipSheet: Travis County, 11.10.15

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 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.

5. Consider and take appropriate action regarding County response to weather events in Travis and surrounding counties. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: As the county continues to recover from last month’s floods, staff members from key departments will brief the commissioners on their progress and bring to light any outstanding concerns. There is wind that the discussion could touch upon the prospect of buyouts for homeowners whose homes were damaged.

13. Consider and take appropriate action regarding utilization of an Austin Area Research Organization-commissioned study by the Texas Transportation Institute. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: This is not the first time AARO’s request for county money to help fund a TTI study of regional transportation planning has been before the commissioners. It first showed up in mid-October and was met with skepticism by several on the dais, most notably Commissioner Gerald Daugherty. His doubts about the study’s utility led to a postponement until late October when AARO’s Clarke Heidrick showed up to explain more. A decision was again postponed, given the third time the opportunity to be a charm.

15. Consider and take appropriate action on the following requests in the county: a. Adoption of an Order relating to disaster debris management; 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; and c. Adoption of the “Request for Assistance Form” for residents that do not have insurance or financial ability to pay for all or a portion of debris cleanup. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Last week, county staff told the commissioners that a cloud of confusion was hanging over efforts to clear debris in the wake of last month’s floods. The hangup had a lot to do with how to help residents clean up messes on their own private property, especially if they are face financial hardship. This policy framework is aimed at clearing the air.

26. Receive update regarding Federal Communications Commission proposed rule on inmate phone services and consider impact on Securus Technologies contract currently under negotiation. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: It seems the feds are considering a new rule that could impose new limits how much telecom companies can charge inmates for phone services. The new rule could radically affect the bottom line of Securus Technologies, the private firm contracted by Travis County. The commissioners will hear this update behind closed doors in executive session.

28. Receive briefing from County Attorney on options on the Civil and Family Courts Complex project following the Bond election. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: This will be the commissioners’ first discussion of how to move forward in the wake of the county’s unsuccessful $287 million Civil and Family Courts Complex bond election. On election night, after it appeared conclusive that voters narrowly rejected the bonds, Judge Sarah Eckhardt maintained that a new courthouse is vitally necessary and she pledged to move forward on potentially more expensive options even it costs her her political career. This discussion will also happen in executive session.

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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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