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TipSheet: Travis County, 8.09.16

Monday, August 8, 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.

1. Approve proclamation recognizing the week of August 15–21, 2016, as “Gay Softball Week” in Travis County. (Commissioner Shea)

Monitor’s Take: Play ball!

3. Approve setting a public hearing on Tuesday, August, 16, 2016, regarding the issuance of a Mass Gathering Permit for “Life in Color” event to be held September 3–4, 2016, at 9507 Sherman Road, Austin, Texas 78742. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Beyond the heat haze shimmering on the horizon of August in Texas, we can make out the faint signs of September’s minimal relief to our ovenly agony, and with it, the return of outdoor festivals! And what better way to celebrate than with a celebration of the one-year annivesary-ish of the mass gathering permitting reforms spearheaded by Judge Sarah Eckhardt in response to complaints from neighbors of the same venue where the Life in Color… event… is looking to once again blast away the sober and solemn sepia tones of workaday life? (answer: there is no better way. none.)

6. Receive update from staff and community partners regarding social impact investing and how it may impact Travis County. (Commissioner Shea & Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: For two years now, staff have been looking into the feasibility of the county participating in so-called Pay for Success programs. The novel and, dare we say, innovative approach to social service spending operates by signing up the private sector to invest in a given nonprofit enterprise. If said enterprise achieves goals identified and benchmarked by the participating public entity — say, Travis County, for example — then said public entity would reimburse the private investors, potentially with interest. On Tuesday, staff will present to the commissioners the critical issues and questions facing potential county-originated Pay for Success programs.

9. Consider and take appropriate action on procedures for Public Improvement District (PID) review, creation, financing and management. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: The Court left an important decision on the table after last week’s PID powwow: Whether to create individual PIDs with or without agreements already in place with the respective developers. We wrote about the pros and cons laid out by staff last week.

10. Consider and take appropriate action on: a. Adjournment of the public hearing opened on July 12, 2016, on proposed WildHorse Ranch PID b. Advisability of creating the WildHorse Ranch PID (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Even if the Court votes to close the public hearing on its first ever potential PID, there’s no obligation to create the thing just yet (the results of Item 9 still pending). Given Austin City Council Member Ora Houston’s historic lack of exuberant support and City Council’s prerogative to abrogate the creation of the PID (which is inside city limits) within 30 days of its creation, don’t be surprised if the Court opts to buy some time in order to, as they say, dot its political i’s and cross its neighborly t’s.

11. Consider and take appropriate action regarding Travis County’s membership in the Lone Star Rail District. (Commissioner Daugherty)

Monitor’s Take: Tuesday’s decision to withhold the county’s annual Lone Star Rail District membership dues of $49,500 could be made easier if the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization votes on Monday night to remove the passenger rail effort from its long range planning efforts.

12. Consider and take appropriate action on the Civil & Family Courts Capacity Project, including various parameters to be included in a request for proposals for 308 Guadalupe. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Even as a community advisory committee continues to weigh new properties as candidates for a new civil courthouse site, the Commissioners Court is trying to figure out what to do with the old site that voters turned down last November. It looks like staff on Tuesday will be soliciting more guidance from the Court regarding dos and don’ts as they prepare to cast out the net to seek private sector ideas about 308 Guadalupe St.

15. Consider and take appropriate action on telework policy for eligible County employees and repeal the previous policy as appropriate. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: As part of a larger effort to reduce single-occupant vehicle trips across the region, Travis County staff have proposed a new policy to encourage telecommuting among county employees. The backup material acknowledges that not every worker will be eligible for the luxury of working from home but it doesn’t specify which ones will or won’t. In any case, we’re having fun imagining our next voter registration form processed by someone in their pajamas.

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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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