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TipSheet: Travis County, 8.1.17

Tuesday, August 1, 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.

8. Consider and take appropriate action regarding the formation of the Travis County Public Facilities Corporation. (Commissioner Daugherty)

Monitor’s Take: Proof that a local government can never have enough tools! This new corporation – which is authorized under state law – would serve “to finance or provide for the acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, renovation, repair, equipping, furnishing, and placement in service of ‘public facilities,’” according to a memo in the agenda backup. Specifically, it would be involved with the ongoing and thoroughly novel North Campus redevelopment project, which will put the county in the residential landlord game should the financing ever come through.

12. Consider and take appropriate action regarding the 2017 Citizens Bond Advisory Committee recommendations. (Commissioners Travillion & Shea)

Monitor’s Take: After an extended public hearing last week, the court is set to discuss potential changes to the large list of bond projects recommended by the Citizens Bond Advisory Committee. We expect the discussion to be lively and participatory since BikeAustin put out a call to its members to show up to urge the court to add funding for Northeast Metropolitan Park as well as a handful of low-water crossings.

13. Consider and take appropriate action on a letter to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) terminating Travis County’s participation in the Low-Income Vehicle Repair Assistance, Retrofit, and Accelerated Vehicle Retirement Program (LIRAP) effective August 31, 2019, and terminating the collection of LIRAP fees at the earliest possible date. (Commissioners Travillion & Shea)

Monitor’s Take: Barring some unforeseen changes of heart at the Texas Legislature in two years, this could spell the end of the county’s involvement with LIRAP, a program that has helped low-income drivers get their vehicles in shape to pass emissions tests. As we reported not long ago, Gov. Greg Abbott zeroed out the initiative’s funding in the most recent state budget. But the county will be able to burn off its existing LIRAP money over the next two years, when perhaps – but don’t hold your breath – the Lege could return state funding.

17. Approve contract award for Historic Structures Report for the Travis County Palm School, RFQ No. Q1701-005-KR, to the highest ranked firm, Antenora Architects, LLP. (Commissioner Travillion)

Monitor’s Take: The cost of determining exactly how much of Palm School is truly and certifiably historic will start at $140,964, if the court approves this contract. Antenora Architects will be charged with checking under the hood to see which sections of the building are original. The firm’s findings will of course be used to figure out exactly what to do with the valuable property on the southeastern corner of downtown Austin.

24. Consider and take appropriate action regarding the creation of the Public Information Office. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Travis County could be on the verge of finally gaining its very own dedicated public information officer, at least temporarily. The path forward outlined in this item would create a provisional PIO position tasked with putting together an unspecified special project over a six-month period. Based on the results of that project, the position could be made permanent, or the grand experiment could be deemed a failure, leaving us in our anarchic status quo wherein top county executives are freely available to reporters without the interference of a middleman (or woman).

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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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