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TipSheet: Travis County, 8.8.17

Tuesday, August 8, 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.

6. Receive update on venue tax and take appropriate action. (Commissioner Travillion)

Monitor’s Take: Despite Mayor Steve Adler’s proposal to expand the Austin Convention Center by having the the city grab for itself the last bit of Hotel Occupancy Tax on the local table, the county appears willing to move forward with a relatively inexpensive look at its options. Several weeks ago, the court voted to have the county’s financial adviser study the impacts of having that tourist revenue come into the county’s coffers. This item is a discussion of the firm’s scope of work, which will be christened under an $18,000 contract that will come back for court approval in the coming weeks.

7. Receive update on County-owned underutilized properties. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Two years ago, staff briefed the court on the county’s inventory of property, a talk that included special emphasis on lands worthy of divestiture. Since then, the collection has been reduced, thanks to the sale of the old filling station at 10th Street and Lamar Boulevard, and a large tract on Tannehill Lane. Of course, the county still has plenty of other valuable holdings that could be spun off for extra cash, but for cases such as Palm School, a simple sale isn’t exactly in the cards. No hard decisions are expected with this update, but a scheduled briefing in September by the Urban Land Institute followed by the delivery of the Travis County Master Plan update later this year will no doubt lay out decisive frameworks for moving forward.

12. Consider and take appropriate action on the following: a. 2017 Citizens Bond Advisory Committee (CBAC) recommendations. b. Update on private investment in public transportation infrastructure. c. Preparation of an order calling a bond election on November 7, 2017 (Commissioners Travillion & Shea)

Monitor’s Take: We could be at the moment here when the court finally decides what package of projects it will ask voters to consider funding in a bond election this November. After weeks of discussing recommendations delivered by the Citizens Bond Advisory Committee and refined by staff, we have a potential list that adds up to just under $185 million. That staff version includes a slate of low-water crossing projects as well as an overhaul of the soccer fields at Northeast Metropolitan Park (replacing burnt-out sod with artificial turf!), but it also cuts out funding for a section of the Walnut Creek Trail as well as an expansion of Braker Lane. Perhaps the most notable absence from this list is Reimers-Peacock Road, a contentious project that Commissioner Gerald Daugherty could attempt to add to the list over the vocal opposition of residents who have showed up to several recent meetings in protest. County Judge Sarah Eckhardt’s office has issued a rare notice of time-certain for 10 a.m. on this item, an indication that we could see many of those same folks ready to crank up the drama.

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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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