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TipSheet: Travis County, 3.9.21

Tuesday, March 9, 2021 by Seth Smalley

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 entire agenda is available at the Travis County website. The meeting will be streamed live on the Travis County website and the Travis County YouTube channel.

Item 1: Public Hearing

Monitor’s Take: The Commissioners Court will commence this morning with a brief public hearing regarding a request to vacate a drainage easement in Wells Branch. The purpose of the vacation is that the drainage easement is not currently needed. The up-gradient land has already been developed, according to Anna Bolon with Transportation and Natural Resources, and the down-gradient land will continue to be protected by the portion of the easement that’s not going away, which contains an earthen dam. Last week, TNR recommended vacation.

Special Joint Session Covid Updates

Monitor’s Take: Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott and Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard will join the Commissioners Court for a special joint session with the City Council. As usual, expect the Covid-19 brief to occupy a significant portion of time in the morning. So far, Covid case numbers have been declining for more than a month straight as vaccination infrastructure in the county is ramping up. This includes a multi-county partnership drive-thru clinic aiming to provide 50,000 doses a week. The officials are likely to discuss the effects and implications of the governor’s executive order lifting the face mask mandate. Also expect discussion of the new CDC guidelines for those who have been fully vaccinated. Following the Covid updates, the joint session will adjourn and a regular voting session will commence.

Many of the same points will be discussed during Item 2 of the voting session, including the county’s response to and recovery from the coronavirus.

Item 4: Severe Weather Response Updates

Monitor’s Take: For the past two weeks, county commissioners have listened to statements from local officials regarding the impact of and response to the severe winter weather. County Executive Chuck Brotherton, Travis County Judge Andy Brown and County Information Officer Hector Nieto have detailed the implementation of county programs, including mass water distribution, cold-weather shelters and a boil-water notice. This week, they will continue the discussion. Though the brunt of the crisis is over, many residents are still dealing with lasting structural damage, from burst pipes to mold outbreaks.

Item 5: New Burn Ban

Monitor’s Take: Expect a new burn ban order for the unincorporated areas of Travis County.

Item 6: Emergency Rental Assistance

Monitor’s Take: In January it was announced that the county would receive $10.7 million in federal relief funding dedicated to emergency rental assistance. Health and Human Services will oversee this discussion.

Item 7: Annual Report on Racial Profiling

Monitor’s Take: The Justice Planning Department and County Judge Andy Brown will oversee discussion of the state-required racial profiling report for 2020.

Editor’s Note: Andy Brown is on the board of the Capital of Texas Media Foundation, the parent nonprofit of the Austin Monitor.

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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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