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TipSheet: Travis County, 2.16.16

Monday, February 15, 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.

1. Approve proclamation recognizing Hershel Lee for his service to Travis County. (Commissioner Shea & Commissioner Daugherty)

Monitor’s Take: After eleven years of brush fires, burn bans, and steering mass gathering permits, Fire Marshal Hershel Lee is riding off into the golden dawn of retirement. One of the Commissioners Court’s parting gifts to him is this handy 390-word proclamation recognizing his service.

4. Receive update on the status of the reinstatement of the face-to-face visitation in the Travis County jail system. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: In November, the Court effectively restored in-person visitations at Travis County Jail. Like so many things related to government, the change was not immediate and is still winding its way through the bureaucratic process. A letter from Sheriff Greg Hamilton attached as backup to this item indicates that the face-to-face visits among inmates and their loved ones is on track to be back in place this summer.

7. Consider and take appropriate action on the proposed changes to Travis County Code Chapter 47. (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: After delaying this decision last month, the Court will finally consider adding new certification requirements for food industry workers. Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, himself a restaurateur, raised concerns in January that the regulations could be an unnecessary burden on business owners and workers. Whether county staff were able to massage a resolution more to his liking remains to be seen.

12. Consider and take appropriate action on the site evaluation matrix to support the analysis of potential project sites and options for developing a solution for Civil and Family Courts capacity, including: a. Base Assumptions; b. Site Criteria Evaluation Matrix; and c. Initial County Owned Sites for Evaluation. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: As you have probably read a few times in our pages over the past several years, Travis County is looking to build a new civil courthouse. Voters in November kneecapped the proposal to build the facility at 300 Guadalupe St. in downtown Austin, but that isn’t stopping county planners from putting that property back in the mix of potential homes for the eventual courthouse. In fact, all six of the six county-owned properties that staff is recommending for study are in downtown. The Austin Monitor isn’t necessarily one to tell our readers how to run their lives, but maybe consider grabbing the popcorn when this item comes before the Court on Tuesday.

17. Consider and take appropriate action on Travis County joining the existing partnership between the City of Austin, the Austin Independent School District and Capital Metro on the Conversation Corps public engagement program. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: This item comfortably complements Judge Sarah Eckhardt’s stated interest in raising the profile of county government among voters. While the idea of creating an Office of Public Information hit some unexpected turbulence last week, joining the Conversation Corps — a series of monthly public dialogues about local civics — could get the word out about goings-on a the county among the community’s more engaged residents.

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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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