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TipSheet: Travis County, 3.5.19

Tuesday, March 5, 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.

6. Consider and take appropriate action on legislative matters, including: a. Update on organization of the 86th Legislature b. Status of Travis County Legislative Priorities (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: The legislative session will reach its 60th day Friday, marking the turning point that will allow the Senate to start taking up bills at a rapid pace in any order. The county is still keeping its finger on the pulse of Senate Bill 2, the property tax bill that is getting pushback from Republicans and Democrats alike for its proposed 2.5 percent rollback rate. Intergovernmental Relations will be offering any news on that bill along with a preview of what to expect as voting begins.

7. Consider and take appropriate action regarding 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: It seems unlikely at this point that the county can leverage enough weight to move the Indigent Legal Services work group letter forward. The work group has come to an impasse after forming in December and several members have already withdrawn from their positions. The group was not able to clearly develop and articulate a plan for a public defender office and its effort at an ISA is failing to get the support it needs from county criminal judges. Last week the court learned that this roadblock will most likely decrease the amount of TIDC grant funding available to the county for indigent defense unless the letter is miraculously approved Tuesday and submitted the following Monday, March 11.

8. Receive Racial Profiling Report for Calendar Year 2018 from the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: The traffic stop is part of Travis County’s strategy to reduce criminal activity, and the county has gathered annual data for 17 years to ensure that racial profiling does not play a role in law enforcement. This analysis compares county demographic statistics to percentages of traffic stops by race. According to its analysis, the Travis County Sheriff’s Office found no evidence of racial profiling when conducting traffic/pedestrian stops in 2018.

16. Consider and take appropriate action regarding an update on the status of the 2017-2022 Bond Program in Travis County. (Commissioners Travillion & Shea)

Monitor’s Take: The county has taken an aggressive new approach to meet the nearly $280 million 2017 Bond Program deadline. A general engineering consultant and a program manager consultant have joined Transportation and Natural Resources to guide the 60 projects to near completion by Dec. 31, 2022. Two of those projects, Thaxton Road and South Pleasant Valley Road, will be behind schedule due to prioritization of other projects. So far, one project has been completed, and another, Hamilton Pool Road, is already under construction. A sidewalk at Decker Lane should soon be under construction, and several other projects are or will soon be in the design stage. The court will be hearing about the status of all projects Tuesday morning.

19. Consider and take appropriate action on an interlocal agreement with Texas State University to conduct solid waste needs assessments for Travis County residents. (Commissioners Shea & Daugherty)

Monitor’s Take: This item is back on the agenda after being postponed for several weeks. The proposal involves a contract with Texas State University to establish the solid waste needs of Travis County and evaluate how they are currently being met and where improvements are needed.

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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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