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TipSheet: Travis County, 2.26.19

Tuesday, February 26, 2019 by Ryan Thornton

The Travis County Commissioners Court meets every Tuesday at 9 a.m. To help our readers stay informed, each week we offer a selection of interesting items from the voting session agenda. The full agenda can be found on the Travis County website.

8. Consider and take appropriate action on legislative matters, including: a. Update on legislative activities b. Adoption of a resolution supporting legislation to allocate sporting good tax receipts to the Parks and Wildlife Department c. Modifications to the Priorities, Policy Positions, and Positions on Other Proposals sections of the Travis County Legislative Agenda (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: This week’s update involves a resolution promoting four bills to stop sporting goods sales tax revenue from being diverted from its dedicated recipients, TPWD and the Texas Historical Commission. State law requires 94 percent of that money to go to TPWD and 6 percent to Historical Commission, but only 40 percent has gone to those departments over the last two decades. The county’s interest in the issue is related to grants from TPWD’s Recreation and Parks Account that helps qualifying communities purchase parkland and develop recreational facilities. The four bills are SJR 24, SB 526, HJR 39, and HB 1214.

9. Receive briefing from the Indigent Legal Services (ILS) Work Group and County staff on draft Intent to Submit Application (ISA) letter to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission for the creation of a public defender office in Travis County. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Justice Planning will be bringing the ILS draft letter back over the coming weeks with the goal of refining the proposal sufficiently to get the required approval of the Travis County criminal court judges before the court’s March 5 voting session. If the county is to apply for a TIDC grant for a potential public defender office, the letter must have the approval of the criminal courts judges and be submitted by March 11. Last week, County Judge Sarah Eckhardt suggested that it may be possible to move forward without the grant as long as everyone involved can agree upon a common goal.

19. Consider and take appropriate action on the Travis County Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. (Commissioners Shea & Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: The county approved earmarked funds to develop a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy on May 23, 2017. The purpose of the plan is to avoid duplicating existing services, identify gaps in services, provide tools to fill those gaps, and work with other organizations to benefit the community. The court will likely approve the plan Tuesday.

20. Receive update on the schedule for the winter issuance of certificates of obligation for the Civil & Family Courts Facility. (Commissioner Daugherty)

Monitor’s Take: The county approved the order to issue COs for the new county courts facility on Jan. 15. Planning and Budget has pushed back the schedule for the winter debt issuance by a couple of weeks. The bond sale is now scheduled to be negotiated on March 28 and the sale is expected to close on April 8.

33. Receive update from the Travis County Healthcare District DBA Central Health and Sendero Health Plans, Inc. regarding the 2019 health maintenance organization’s member enrollment and investment by Central Health in the Central Health Fiscal Year 2019 Budget. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Central Health will be providing an update on its new member enrollment system, as requested by the court in 2018. In order to save Sendero Health Plans insurance provider from financial collapse, Central Health devised a plan last year to leverage federal dollars by enrolling a large number of clients with greater health needs than the average population. The move was welcomed by many members of the community despite the difficulty of contacting individuals in very poor health who are often also dealing with homelessness. Central Health will update the court on the plan’s progress up to this point and the financial projections through fiscal year 2019.

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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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