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TipSheet: Travis County, 7.16.19

Tuesday, July 16, 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.

13. Consider and take appropriate action on the grant application to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission for a public defender office in Travis County. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: In May, the Commissioners Court approved submitting an application to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission for funding to set up the county’s first public defender’s office. TIDC has asked the county to provide additional information as it considers the application. The agency wants to know whether the county believes it will be able to provide adequate ongoing funding for the new office in the wake of Senate Bill 2, the recently passed law that sharply limits the property tax revenue local governments can raise without voter approval. It also asked for more specifics on how the county will evaluate the success of the new office and the structure of the body that will oversee the program.

The court approved the application when SB 2 was not yet law but was widely anticipated to be approved. At the time, Commissioner Gerald Daugherty opposed the application, saying the county wasn’t in a fiscal position to set up new programs, while Commissioner Brigid Shea voted in favor while also expressing grave concerns about the financing. Now that SB 2 is the new reality, there will likely be conversation about whether the county should go forward with the public defender’s office.

28. Consider and take appropriate action on the final Travis County Transportation Blueprint. (Commissioners Travillion & Shea)

Monitor’s Take: The transportation blueprint is a long-range transportation plan, in the making for years, that is aimed at the unincorporated parts of Travis County. While the main focus is on maintaining and expanding the road network that connects rural areas to the city of Austin, the plan also includes multimodal improvements such as bike lanes, shared use paths, trails and public transit. The proposed funding forecast through 2045 is just under $1.93 billion, with the great majority ($1.57 billion) for roads, $343 million for bike/pedestrian projects and $22.36 million for public transit.

As is the case with so many other budget priorities, the new revenue limits imposed by the state are expected to reduce funding available for transportation projects.

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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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