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TipSheet: Travis County, 3.21.17

Tuesday, March 21, 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.

10. Consider and take appropriate action on the DNA testing issues in the Austin Police Department Forensics Services Division, DNA Unit, including: a. Letter from the Commissioners Court to City Council b. Interlocal agreement with City of Austin (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Big doings here in the effort to clean up the mess created by the collapse of the Austin Police Department’s DNA lab last year. The Court will vote on a cost-sharing agreement with the City of Austin by which both entities will split the tab for, among other things, the search for a permanent solution to DNA forensics in Austin. Seems important!

11. Consider and take appropriate action on request from the Travis County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) regarding the update of the maintenance service contract between Travis County and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for the housing of state transfer offenders. (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: If the Court approves this, the number of state jail offenders housed at Travis County’s Del Valle facility could rise. It seems that the existing agreement no longer pencils out financially for the county, so the state has offered to increase the amount it pays by increasing the number of inmates it will transfer to county custody.

17. Consider and take appropriate action on the Civil & Family Courts Capacity Project. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Any week now, we’re expecting news about the fate of 300 Guadalupe Street — the civil courthouse site that was not to be — and any potential selection of a property to replace it as the planned home for a new house of civil justice. We’re not getting our hopes up that the Court will take any action on this item this week, but last month Judge Sarah Eckhardt teased that developments could come in March. And, well, it’s March. So be on alert!

38. Consider and take appropriate action on issues related to the North Campus Development Project at 5325–5335 Airport Boulevard. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Similar to Item 17, Eckhardt keeps this on each week’s agenda as a matter of contingency just in case any developments break late. Once again, our hopes are not high that the judge won’t decide at the beginning of the meeting to take no action, but no one ever made it big by discounting the cynical pessimism of journalists, so take our predictions with a large tray of margarita salt. In any case, there is some pressing urgency for the Court to address this issue soon, since last we left it, the county’s efforts to score state tax credits to help finance the affordable housing component of the project unexpectedly fell through.

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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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