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TipSheet: Travis County, 9.20.16

Tuesday, September 20, 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.

3. Receive comments regarding the Travis County Tax Rate for the FY17 County Budget. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: If you don’t dig the draft budget for Fiscal Year 2017 that county staff have prepared — or if you love it so, so much — here’s one of two chances to let the Commissioner Court hear about your feelings in person. The $976.3 million budget features a small decrease in the property tax rate to 38.38 cents per every $100 of valuation, so set your emotional response accordingly and show up early to Tuesday’s meeting. If you can’t make it, there’s a second opportunity on Friday. Democratic participation!

8. Consider and take appropriate action on appointments to the Austin/Travis County Sobriety Center Board of Directors. (Commissioner Daugherty & Commissioner Gómez)

9. Consider and take appropriate action on the formation of a local government corporation to operate a sobriety center for Travis County and the City of Austin, including articles of incorporation and by-laws. (Commissioner Daugherty & Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: The years-long effort to create a publicly funded sobriety center in Austin will take a giant leap closer to the finish line with these two items. In June, the Court and City Council ratified the interlocal agreement to set up the center, which will provide enthusiastic oenophiles, a bit-too-bold beer drinkers, intense tequila tipplers, and zealous Zima fans a more cost effective alternative to spending the night in the downtown jail. After the selection of the Board of Members and the approval of the local government corporation’s bylaws, the last major impediment to the center’s existence is the Medical Examiner’s Office, which will relocate from its headquarters at 12th and Sabine streets to make way for the center to renovate and take over that facility.

19. Consider and take appropriate action regarding request to rename the Records Management and Communications Resources department to “Communications and Records Services,” effective October 1, 2016. (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: The State of Texas might look to this item for some inspiration in the perennial argument over whether to rename the Railroad Commission. At the behest of a consultant’s review of county business, staff have concluded that the Records Management and Communications Resources Department’s name no longer reflects its “current or envisioned responsibilities.” Instead, the name appellation, the Communications and Records Services, “will serve to remind County department heads as well as elected and appointed officials of the diverse communications resources (print, digital, TV, and archival) available to them in conducting public outreach for their respective initiatives and services.” Sure!

20. Consider and take appropriate action on the following items regarding recruitment and succession planning for Operations Management: a. Job description for the County Executive of Operations Management b. Update on recruitment of the Director of the Human Resources Management Department (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: If you’re a top-level local government management type with burnin’ yearnin’ to live in Austin, the next few months will be rich with opportunity. In addition to the city’s search for outgoing City Manager Marc Ott’s replacement, the county will be shopping for someone to fill the County Executive of Operations Management, a brand new gig that will oversee three county departments. Burnish that resumé and sharpen those interviewing skills. Let us know if you need help writing a cover letter.

30. Consider and take appropriate action on the Travis County Healthcare District d/b/a Central Health FY17 Budget. (Judge Eckhardt)

31. Consider and take appropriate action on the Travis County Healthcare District d/b/a Central Health 2016 Tax Rate: a. Total maintenance and operations tax rate b. Total debt service tax rate c. Total ad valorem tax rate (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Little bit of an ongoing controversy involving Central Health and its financial happenings. At the heart of it: Whether the district’s annual $35 million payment to the University of Texas’ Dell Medical School is in line with its state-defined mission of providing indigent health care. As we reported today, there’s a bit of pressure on the Court to withhold its approval of the district’s latest budget. Outside of Tuesday’s meeting, the next (and last) opportunity on the schedule to make a decision is next Tuesday. Stay tuned!

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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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