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TipSheet: Travis County, 5.7.19

Tuesday, May 7, 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.

5. Consider and take appropriate action regarding: A. Outdoor burning in the unincorporated areas of Travis County B. County response to natural disaster or other emergency (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: This is an opportunity for county emergency response officials to brief the court on the flash floods that occurred after Friday’s downpour. The court voted unanimously last week to adopt new development standards based on the Atlas 14 rainfall study, which will reclassify large sections of the county as flood plain. As is the case after any severe storm, county leaders will be looking to evaluate whether the floods could have been prevented as well as the effectiveness of the response.

6. Consider and take appropriate action on a grant application to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission to establish a public defender office in Travis County and to provide enhancements to the Capital Area Private Defender Service (CAPDS). (Commissioners Daugherty & Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: This is the big item this week. It’s the court’s final chance to approve the application before the deadline, which the Texas Indigent Defense Commission has already extended. If Travis County is awarded the grant, it will receive $19 million over four years to set up the county’s first public defender office. Currently the county pays private attorneys to represent indigent defendants. While County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and a coalition of advocates are pushing to get the grant and set up the office, other commissioners have raised concerns about the ongoing cost of operating the new office, particularly in light of the state Legislature imposing strict new revenue caps on local governments.

Postponed: Receive comments regarding a resolution of no objection for Decker Lofts, to be located at 9000 Decker Lane, Austin, Texas 78724.

Monitor’s Take: This is a proposed affordable housing project in eastern Travis County on which the court declined to take action last week. The developer, NRP Group, seeks the court’s approval to obtain 4 percent low-income housing tax credits. County staffers have recommended against approval, arguing that there is already too great a concentration of subsidized housing in the Decker Lake area. County Judge Sarah Eckhardt has hinted that she agrees and said during an Austin Monitor Radio interview last week that she hopes the developer can find another location for the project. However, Commissioner Jeff Travillion says the county should act swiftly to get even more affordable housing into the area before it gentrifies. The court was scheduled to act on the item this week but the developer has asked for a one-week postponement.

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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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