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TipSheet: Travis County, 7.9.19

Tuesday, July 9, 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.

12. Consider and take appropriate action to set elected official salaries for FY 2020. (Commissioners Travillion & Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: Last month, the Commissioners Court approved pay increases for a variety of county elected officials, including themselves ($119,508 to $151,817). However, state law requires them to take a few more steps before the pay raises are final. Today, they must vote to print the proposed salaries in a local newspaper (The Austin Chronicle) and then hold a public hearing on the issue July 30. The court voted 4-1 in favor of the pay raises last month, but Commissioner Gerald Daugherty has vocally opposed the hikes, arguing that certain officials, notably the commissioners themselves, should not be raising their own pay when the county is struggling to boost pay for its rank-and-file workers.

20. Consider and take appropriate action on the selection of an emergency evacuation route out of Steiner Ranch in Precinct Two. (This item may be taken into Executive Session under the Consultation with Attorney exception.) (Commissioner Shea)

Monitor’s Take: Ever since wildfires destroyed several houses in 2011, the county has planned to build a new emergency access route out of Steiner Ranch, the affluent master planned community in northwest Travis County. An engineering firm the county hired to assess the options has presented two viable routes: one, Route B, would be a limited-access road used only in the case of an emergency; and another, Route F, would be a full-purpose road used daily. County staff is recommending moving forward with Route B due to the lower cost ($980,000 versus $7.2 million). Numerous Steiner Ranch residents have also come to the court in recent months to voice their opposition to Route F, citing concerns about traffic, safety and environmental degradation.

A1. Consider and take appropriate action on financial arrangements between Travis County and the Sobering Center and potential options. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: The Sobering Center, which operates as a local government corporation to which the city of Austin and Travis County have both contributed funds, is requesting a $100,000 loan from the county. It needs the money because a $100,000 grant it is counting on from the state Health and Human Services Commission will not be available until the center meets certain deliverables. There could be some questions about why the center did not foresee this issue sooner as well as whether it can guarantee the loan will be repaid.

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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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