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TipSheet: Travis County, 7.25.17

Tuesday, July 25, 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.

3. Receive comments regarding the Final Report from the 2017 Citizens Bond Advisory Committee. (Commissioners Travillion & Shea)

Monitor’s Take: If you have strong feelings about the bond proposal the court will consider putting before voters in November, this is your chance to have your feelings heard. (In person at least: You can still let everyone know how you feel about it up until and even after the ultimate vote, should the court set one.) We reported on the recommendations last week and have heard from some stakeholders that they may show up to vent about a possible move by Commissioner Gerald Daugherty to insert the Reimers-Peacock Road project onto the referendum.

8. Consider and take appropriate action related to the use of Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) in Travis County: a. Authorize the County Executive of Emergency Services to convene and facilitate a UAS Task Force to develop standard County policies related to the use of UAS for consideration by the Commissioners Court. b. Authorize the Task Force to develop and implement a Project Charter and associated work plan that will frame the work to be completed including specific deliverables and timelines. c. Authorize County Staff to solicit feedback from the community related to the potential use of UAS by County Departments (Commissioners Shea & Daugherty)

Monitor’s Take: The Travis County drone task force sounds maybe a little more martial than it actually would be, if the court approves its creation. The task force would be deputized to work on a standard county policy for the use of unmanned aerial systems, known more popularly as drones. The policy would only affect the county’s use of the remote-controlled flying machines, so don’t expect to lose those breathtaking aerial shots of downtown Austin that are frequently shared by private operators on social media.

12. Consider and take appropriate action regarding approval of an Interlocal Cooperative Agreement for the Procurement of Consulting Services related to an Assessment of Fair Housing between City of Austin, City of Round Rock, City of Pflugerville, Travis County, Williamson County, Housing Authority of the City of Austin, Housing Authority of the City of Georgetown, Housing Authority of the City of Round Rock, Housing Authority of the City of Taylor, and Housing Authority of Travis County. (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: Lest anyone accuse the regional governments of doing nothing when it comes to affordability issues for low-income residents, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has stepped in with a new mandate for Travis County and its proximate colleagues. In order to continue receiving valuable Community Development Block Grant money, the county is looking to join forces with its regional partners to complete an Assessment of Fair Housing and use that to develop a Fair Housing Plan that addresses racial segregation and any other discriminatory barriers. This promises to be a slow-burning process that we’ll just have to keep our eyes on for the next several months.

15. Receive update on City/County partnership on Venue District. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: The court will hear its first briefing on Mayor Steve Adler’s recently published blueprint for raising the city’s share of the Hotel Occupancy Tax to fund an expansion of the Austin Convention Center. The mayor’s plan appears to explicitly kibosh any hopes for the county to claim its own share of the remaining available HOT that could be used for funding tourism-related improvements. Adler’s posting on the City Council Message Board stated his belief that most county projects – including presumably the Travis County Expo Center – would be ineligible under state law. Still, he held open the possibility of other city-county ventures. Should be interesting to see how jilted the court feels, and if anyone has any specific ideas about any possible new ventures.

18. Consider and take appropriate action on request to accept Travis County #StrongerTogether donation for deobligated Office of the Governor grant programs. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: The community comes through for the various justice programs whose funding Gov. Greg Abbott hacked away earlier this year. The fundraising effort #StrongerTogether pulled in $133,000 to keep the programs going through the beginning of the next fiscal year, which buys budget writers enough time to permanently fund them with county money.

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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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