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TipSheet: Travis County, 11.27.18

Tuesday, November 27, 2018 by Ryan Thornton

To help our readers stay informed, each week we offer a selection of interesting items from the Travis County Commissioners Court voting session agenda. The full list of items can be accessed at Travis County’s website.

5. Consider and take appropriate action on the creation of the Indigent Legal Services (ILS) work group. (Commissioners Daugherty & Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: The Commissioners Court set out to create a work group for a Travis County Public Defender Office on Oct. 16. Following several public discussions concerning the exact roles and demographics of the work group, there are now a total of 31 suggested names to fill the 15 roles. Of these 31, 14 have been suggested as backups for specific roles. Various legal organizations – predominantly Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Woog Caucus and Capital Area Private Defender Service – were responsible for the individual suggestions. Two of the roles, Judiciary and Academia, may present a challenge for the Commissioners Court with only one suggestion for Judiciary and four for Academia. If discussion is productive, a Public Defender Office work group may be formed Tuesday morning.

9. Consider and take appropriate action on the public comment draft of the Program Year 2017 Consolidated Annual Performance Evaluation Report (CAPER) for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). (Commissioners Shea & Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: Travis County has received Community Development Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the socioeconomic promotion of viable urban communities since 2006. The money for program year 2017 went toward a variety of efforts, from homeowner rehabilitation and affordable housing to the promotion of STEM education for girls. Use of CDBG funds requires the county to meet HUD parameters and provide a report detailing use of funds each program year. Approximately $1,606,425.85 of available funds was spent during the 2017 program year.

11. Consider and take appropriate action on the following requests from Foundation Communities, related to the operation of its tax preparation assistance program for eligible residents during the 2019 Tax Season: a) In-kind support in the form of printing fliers, forms and other promotional materials; b) in-kind support in the form of American Sign Language services (services for the deaf and hard of hearing). (Commissioners Shea & Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: If approved, $25,000 may be dedicated to assisting Travis County residents with their taxes during the 2019 tax season. Of these funds, $5,000 will be dedicated to supporting the deaf and hard of hearing with the process of filing their taxes. The Community Tax Centers Program returned $34.6 million to the local economy during the 2018 tax season. The program will operate from the end of January until the filing deadline on April 15, 2019.

27. Receive update on status of Disparity Study recommendations and Fiscal Year 2018 HUB Program utilization report. (Commissioner Daugherty)

Monitor’s Take: The 2018 Historically Underutilized Business Program shows minor improvements compared to 2016 and a decline from 2017. HUB utilization by the county was at 12.43 percent in 2016 and is at 12.44 percent in 2018, down from 12.98 percent in 2017. Despite the fall from last year, the county is considering the long term. Moreover, 2017 represents a costly year for the county compared to 2016, with total expenditures jumping from $126,416,705 in 2016 to $174,407,940 in 2017. Data for Fiscal Year 2018 spans from Oct. 1, 2017, through Sept. 30, 2018.

A1. Consider and take appropriate action regarding an order designating Early Voting and Election Day polling places for the December 11, 2018 Joint General and Special Elections Runoff. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Three City Council races were close enough on Nov. 6 to require runoff elections. The Commissioners Court will be approving the Travis County voting locations on Tuesday morning. Election day for City Council Districts 1, 3 and 8 will be Dec. 11 and early voting will run from Thursday, Nov. 29, to Friday, Dec. 7.

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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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