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TipSheet: Travis County, 5.24.16

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 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.

3. Receive update on the proposed sobriety center for Travis County. (Commissioner Daugherty & Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: The long but determined march towards the construction of a sobriety center — or, as some call it, a drunk tank — in downtown Austin has hit another important milestone. County and city staff have reached accord on the details of an interlocal agreement and cost model for the center. Floor plans have also apparently drafted for the proposed site at the Medical Examiner’s Office building on Sabine Street (the ME’s Office will soon split that location for new digs in northeast Austin), but since opposition to that plan is brewing, the team cooking up the sobriety center plans are also eyeing the county-owned University Savings Bank building at 11th and Lavaca.

4. Consider and take appropriate action on an appointment to the Boards of the Strategic Housing Finance Corporation and the Housing Authority of Travis County. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: This is another procedural step in the process to appoint a fifth and final member to the newly reformed twin boards of HATC and SHFC. Staff will likely recommend that the Court select two of the seven applicants to advance to a round of interviews, which could be scheduled for a special work session as early as this Thursday.

8. Consider and take appropriate action on property tax rate considerations for the development of the FY17 Budget. (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: The county’s annual budgeting boogaloo picks up steam with this consideration of the local property tax sitch. In the backup material, staff once again poo-poos the idea of instituting a tax ceiling for seniors, but the door remains open to yet another $5,000 raise in the exemption for seniors and disabled residents. According to staff, kicking it up to $80,000 would cost the county $800,000.

9. Consider and take appropriate action on the preparation of an updated evaluation of building systems for the historic U.S. Courthouse in Austin and proposed use plan as a part of an application process to obtain the property. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: The county’s quest to build a brand new civil courthouse hit a brick wall last November when a bare majority of voters rejected $287 million in bonds to construct the facility at 300 Guadalupe St. That means that the county and its residents are stuck with the 85-year-old Heman Marion Sweatt Courthouse while the planners undertake the long process to find alternative options. One idea to relieve pressure on that aging building to share its burden with another aging building — the U.S. Courthouse at W. 7th and Lavaca streets. This item would initiate the county’s attempt to snag the building from the federal government, which is actively looking for someone else to pass the building on to.

23. Consider and take appropriate action regarding the creation of a committee to study and provide recommendations regarding advertisement on County-owned assets such as buildings, property, vehicles, signage, technology-related hardware, websites, etc. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Imagine county-owned vehicles wrapped with corporate logos, or giant billboards hanging from the side of 700 Lavaca St. The Charles Schwab Planning and Budget Office? Hamilton Pool Park brought to you by Coppertone? The Travis County Coca-Cola Commissioners Court presents Public Communications, made possible by Clozaril… When you’ve got to keep it real, Clozaril!

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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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