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TipSheet: Travis County, 5.14.19

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 by Jack Craver

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 on the Travis County website.

10. Consider and take appropriate action on legislative matters, including: A. Update on legislative activities B. Modifications to the Priorities, Policy Positions, and Positions on Other Proposals sections of the Travis County Legislative Agenda (Commissioners Shea & Daugherty)

Monitor’s Take: As has been the case in recent weeks, Travis County’s lobbying team will provide an update on the status of state legislation that is of interest to county government. Of top concern is the tax bill that will reduce the rollback rate from 8 percent to 3.5 percent for most local governments. While Travis County has generally not raised the effective tax rate far above 3.5 percent in recent years, every member of the court, including Republican Gerald Daugherty, has described the bill as an attack on local control. The county is also concerned about proposals that would limit the ability of local governments to spend money lobbying for or against state legislation.

11. Receive update from the Travis County Office of Parental Representation. (Commissioners Daugherty & Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: This office is responsible for providing representation to parents in cases involving Child Protective Services. The county has another office that is responsible for representing the children in those cases. This is just a presentation, but it comes in the context of heightened awareness of legal representation for low-income people. Last week the court approved an application for a state grant to set up the county’s first public defender’s office. Currently Travis County pays for private attorneys to represent indigent defendants, a system that experts say produces worse outcomes for defendants than salaried public defenders.

24. Consider and take appropriate action on: A. Termination of Contract No. 4400000599, Southwest Key Programs, Inc., for educational and counseling services for the operation of the Travis County Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Cooperative (JJAEP) B. Authorization for the Purchasing Agent to issue notice of termination in accordance with Contract No. 4400000599 (Commissioner Daugherty)

Monitor’s Take: Sources indicate that the county’s decision to terminate the contract with Southwest Key is not due to the nonprofit’s controversial role managing facilities for detained migrant children.

31. Receive legal briefing and take appropriate action on ad valorem tax issues related to the proposed soccer stadium located at 10414 McKalla Place, approximately 24 acres, in Austin, Texas. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: This relates to the site of the future Major League Soccer stadium on land owned by the city of Austin. The commissioners have voiced their displeasure with the city deciding to exempt the new business from all local property taxes without consulting other local taxing jurisdictions, such as the school district and the county. The court has asked the county attorney to analyze the city’s argument that the property serves a public purpose and can be exempt without the consent of the other taxing entities. This conversation with the county attorney will take place in executive session.

A1. Consider and take appropriate action on a resolution of no objection for Decker Lofts, to be located at 9000 Decker Lane, Austin, Texas 78724. (Commissioner Travillion)

Monitor’s Take: Two weeks ago, the court postponed action on whether or not to endorse this affordable housing development amidst concerns that the 262-unit project was proposed for an area of eastern Travis County with an existing high concentration of income-restricted housing. County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said that she wanted to work with the developer, NRP, to find another site that would promote more economic integration. On May 4, however, the NRP executive leading the project, Dan Markson, was found dead from a gunshot wound at his home in San Antonio. The initial reporting from the San Antonio Express-News does not indicate whether police have any leads on the suspect.

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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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