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TipSheet: Travis County, 5.16.2017

Tuesday, May 16, 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.

9. Receive update from City of Austin staff on the Animal Services Office. (Commissioners Shea & Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: People in Travis County really like animals and they really, really like the city of Austin’s no-kill policy at its two shelters. In 2016, more than 17,000 animals passed through those shelters, making Austin the largest no-kill city in the country. This briefing before the court will trumpet the Animal Services Department’s accomplishments, as well as highlight the need for more funding (that could perhaps come from the county) to create more staff positions to keep up with growing demand.

12. Consider and take appropriate action on update regarding Travis County Venue Tax Capacity. (Commissioner Travillion)

Monitor’s Take: Herein is a terrific example of the perils of not having a truly metropolitan form of government. Under state law, both the county and the city are allowed to levy hotel occupancy taxes, but the combined sum of each plus the state’s cut cannot exceed 17 percent. Of course, the city is looking at raising its HOT rate in order to fund an expansion of the Austin Convention Center. The proposed increase would max out the total allowable HOT levy. Currently, the county does not collect a HOT tax, but if it wanted to, the city’s plan would dunk that dream. Which would mean that any new investments in the county’s parks and/or the Exposition Center would be paid for by locals instead of tourists.

16. Receive update and take appropriate action regarding the Citizens Bond Advisory Committee process. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: The Citizens Bond Advisory Committee is quietly gearing up to present its recommendations for potential bond projects to the court, and there is no small amount of whispered concerns about which pet initiatives will make the cut. Intrigue is simmering, something that we can’t say happens a whole lot at quiet Travis County.

24. Consider and take appropriate action on the proposed Travis County Vision, Mission, Guiding Principles, and Goals. (Judge Eckhardt & Commissioner Daugherty)

Monitor’s Take: Just so there’s no misunderstanding, the court has commissioned staff to create an explicit statement of the county’s vision, mission, values and goals. After several weeks of toiling, the results are in for final approval. Per the backup material, the biggest change since a court review in April is the shift of one of the three guiding principles. Instead of committing to being “operationally excellent,” the county now will strive for “operational excellence.” Heady stuff.

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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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