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TipSheet: Travis County, 9.22.15

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 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.

4. Consider and take appropriate action on request from the Travis County Sheriff’s Office to accept donation of mental health medications from Austin Travis County Integral Care. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Here is a case of drug dealing that the Travis County Sheriff’s Office is only too happy to encourage. Officials at Austin Travis County Integral Care are looking to donate nearly $40,000 worth of prescription medication to the county jail’s pharmacy. The inventory includes a few hundred Effexors, thousands of Prozacs, and one vial of migraine-preventing Depakene. The reason for the generous donation: All of the medication will expire in the next two to three months.

11. Consider and take appropriate action on request from the District Judges for flexibility to set the County Auditor’s annual salary under Local Government Code § 152.032. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: While the commissioners recently approved a three-percent pay raise for county employees and elected officials, the gesture — thanks to state law — didn’t completely extend to County Auditor Nicki Reily. According to that law, if a county auditor’s salary already exceeds the benchmark salary defined by a specific statute, then district judges must sign off on the commissioner-approved raise, which according to our calculations will set Reily’s new annual salary at $181,175.20 (though she is welcome to check our math).

14. Consider and take appropriate action regarding a license agreement for Austin Dog Alliance to use the fourth floor of the Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse to provide for visitation of therapy dogs to comfort children and families attending Child Protective Services hearings. (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: An otherwise heartwarming item that on first blush wouldn’t lend itself to a trace of controversy, this program could be used by proponents of the $287 million Civil and Family Courts Complex bond to illustrate how woefully inadequate the Heman Marion Sweatt Courthouse is. We’ve already heard tales of tiny offices crammed floor to ceiling with workers and tiny elevators packed with victims of family violence and their abusers. Now prepare to find therapy dogs doing their jobs in the only space available for them to practice their canine comforts: In the fourth floor hallway between courtrooms.

15. Consider and take appropriate action on one or more sealed-bid submittals received from private parties in the form of proposed contracts for the purchase of Travis County-owned real property located at 1000 North Lamar Boulevard in Central Austin. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Remember that county-owned filling station at West 10th St. and North Lamar? The one that leaked untold gallons of petrochemicals during the Memorial Day floods earlier this year? It looks like the county is inching towards complete divestment of further liability by selling the property, an idea set in motion almost a year ago. As an added bonus, the prime real estate (floodplain notwithstanding) should fetch a pretty penny and add a nice sheen to the county’s coffers. Details on the sealed-bids will likely be scarce and it’s a good bet that the commissioners will take this item behind closed doors into executive session.

22. Approve Contract Award for Parking Management Services, RFS No. 1507-001-JL, to the top three firms, Lanier Parking, Parking Systems of America, and Platinum Parking. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Originally on last week’s agenda, Judge Sarah Eckhardt declared it wasn’t quite ready and put it back in the oven for seven day. At stake is three contracts to separate firms to manage parking at seven downtown garages and lots owned by the county. All told, the firms are offering to pay nearly $1.87 million for the privilege.

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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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