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TipSheet: Travis County, 6.21.16

Tuesday, June 21, 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.

13. Consider and take appropriate action on the following: a. Closing the public hearing opened on December 1, 2015, on a petition to create the WildHorse Ranch Public Improvement District (PID) b. Setting a new public hearing on Tuesday, July 12, 2016, to receive comments on a petition to create the WildHorse Ranch PID c. Publishing notice of the new public hearing d. Mailing written notice of the new public hearing to affected parties (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: Face, meet palm. The Court initially held in December a public hearing to receive input on this proposed development near the Manor Expressway and State Highway 130. However, it seems the map provided by the developers and used in the legally required advertisement of the hearing was technically incorrect. That means a the Court must hold a brand new hearing before staff can deliver their final recommendations, which are slated to come down next month.

14. Consider and take appropriate action regarding update on the development of the FY17 Budget and remaining key budget calendar dates. (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: Now that the NBA Finals are finally over, we can all turn our attention to this summer’s true excitement: The ongoing development of Travis County FY 2017 budget jam. While the process is just heating up, this item will give us all much-needed clarity on the proposed schedule. Can’t-miss dates include July 25 when the preliminary budget is set to drop like a Steph Curry bucket, and also September 27 when the Court will drive from the paint to take a final vote and dunk that rock through the proverbial basketball ring. Can we get a “boom shaka laka”?

15. Consider and take appropriate action regarding FY17 salaries for elected officials: a. Proposed elected officials’ salaries b. Proposed calendar for setting elected officials’ salaries c. Public hearing on advertised salaries (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: The part where elected officials have to vote on their pay-raises is generally one of the more awkward features of any budgetary merry-go-round. This year, the Court is being asked by staff to consider a 2.5 percent increase in salaries for everyone including the commissioners and County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, along with the sheriff, county clerk, district judges, constables, and more. Expect some posturing on the dais and at least one or two reminders that the raises are merely ceilings and that officials, including members of the Court, can opt to take home less than the maximum amount.

16. Consider and take appropriate action on the Civil & Family Courts Capacity Project, including: a. Base assumptions for siting criteria b. Final Tier 1 & 2 of the Site Criteria Evaluation Matrix c. Tier 1 analysis of County-owned sites and recommendation for Tier 2 analysis d. Additional sites recommended for Tier 1 analysis, both County-owned and non-County-owned (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: With this item, the Court could whittle down the properties that are in the running to perhaps one day be the site of a new civil courthouse. After running them through an evaluation matrix, the community advisory committee working on the project have recommended that the University Savings Building at W. 11th and Lavaca streets and the parking garage on W. 10th and San Antonio streets be removed from consideration. The committee also gave the thumbs up to advancing to the next level of consideration the Granger Building just to the north of the University Savings Building. Perhaps more controversially is the recommendation to also continue studying as a possible courthouse site the 300 Guadalupe St. property that was to be home to the $287 million Civil and Family Courthouse that voters rejected last November.

20. Consider and take appropriate action regarding modification to the RV fees at the Travis County Exposition Center. (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: Amid the rising cost of living in central Texas, a ray of sunshine and hope: The Travis County Commissioners Court could vote to dramatically lower the fees the county charges to hook up RVs at the Exposition Center. Get your Airstreams ready because staff is recommending a decrease from $75 to $40 for a hookup with water and electricity. For the more rugged among us, a water- and power-free hookup will go from $50 to $25. What a time to be alive.

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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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