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TipSheet: Travis County, 4.14.20

Tuesday, April 14, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

The Travis County Commissioners Court meets every Tuesday at 9 a.m. This week’s meeting will be broadcast to ensure that everyone is able to adhere to social distancing regulations. The public can access the meeting by watching the livestream or tuning into public access Channel 17. 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.

2. Receive revenue and expenditure reports, and other statutorily required reports, for the month of February 2020 from the County Auditor’s Office. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: While this report won’t be as interesting as the financials that are presented after the effects of Covid-19 have been tallied up, it is still worth paying attention to these monthly budget reports. In February, the county was still operating in a normal capacity and had $1.8 million owed to outstanding bonds and $803.08 million in expenditures it was paying against in the General Fund. To balance that out, Travis County took in $712.6 million in General Fund revenue. While it’s doubtful that the commission will go through the report line by line, readers may do so here.

6. Consider and take appropriate action on: A. Update on the impact of Covid-19 to the FY 2020 & 2021 Budgets B. Hiring freeze for departments and officials reporting to the Commissioners Court and voluntary hiring freeze for other elected and appointed officials C. Other cost saving measures (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: Unsurprisingly, the annual budget will also be affected by the unprecedented circumstances of Covid-19. If city staffers have managed to forecast the impact of the virus on Travis County’s economy, it will be worth tuning in to get a firsthand glimpse at how severe the damage is going to be. Clearly, it is substantial enough for the commissioners to discuss a hiring freeze. Which elected seats will volunteer for the hiring freeze remains to be seen.

7. Consider and take appropriate action on: A. Update to the FY 2020 debt issuance that includes revisions to projects for November 2017 voter-approved road bonds and permanent improvement bonds, and certificates of obligation B. Adoption of an order authorizing publication of notice of intent to issue certificates of obligation and repealing the order adopted on March 3, 2020.

Monitor’s Take: The effects of Covid-19 will once again take center stage as the Commissioners Court deliberates on whether to increase the 2020 debt-funded project list by $32.9 million from what was approved last month. This increase will serve as a cap and will be the maximum amount issued. While the commissioners will vote on approving this increase, the county’s Planning and Budget Office is investigating the possibility of delaying the proposed funding for some projects to a future fiscal year. Although this is a significant increase in debt, the county will be able to issue these certificates of obligation at a lower rate than most counties as it retains a AAA bond rating from both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s rating agencies.

16. Consider and take appropriate action on a request to submit comments to the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) regarding the draft CAMPO 2045 Regional Transportation Plan (2045 Plan). (Commissioners Travillion & Shea)

Monitor’s Take: After three weeks of deliberation, county commissioners will vote on sending a letter of admonishment to the CAMPO board for a process that has left elected officials and the public reeling with its speed. Learn more about the transportation projects that are listed for deferral here.

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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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