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TipSheet: Travis County, 9.24.19

Tuesday, September 24, 2019 by Jack Craver

The Travis County Commissioners Court meets every Tuesday at 9 a.m. To help our readers stay informed, each week we offer a selection of interesting items from the voting session agenda. The entire agenda is available at the Travis County website.

1. Receive comments regarding the FY 2020 Proposed Budget. (Action Item 22) (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Despite the major ramifications of this year’s budget – this is the last time the county will be able to increase the effective tax rate by more than 3.5 percent without voter approval – it has elicited precious little comment from the public. Only one person showed up to speak at a public hearing the court held Friday and there is no indication that today’s hearing will be any more robust. But perhaps some folks will show up to surprise us.

10. Consider and take appropriate action on a judicial appointment to the County Court at Law Number 4 of Travis County. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: After evaluating 13 applications for the position being vacated by longtime Judge Mike Denton, a screening committee has recommended two candidates for the Commissioners Court to consider: Margaret Chen Kercher, who runs a private criminal defense practice, and Dimple Malhotra, an assistant county attorney who deals with cases of family violence.

Today, the court will only decide whether to move forward with the two finalists. If it opts to do so, it will have a special voting session Thursday to interview the finalists and decide which one gets the job.

23. Consider and take appropriate action on an order approving setting the Travis County tax rates for the year beginning January 1, 2020: A. Total Maintenance and Operations Tax Rate (31.2263 cents per $100 valuation) B. Total Debt Service Tax Rate (5.7030 cents per $100 valuation) C. Total County Ad Valorem Tax Rate (36.9293 cents per $100 valuation) (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: So far there has been no indication there will be a big debate about this. Everybody on the court, including the conservative Gerald Daugherty, appears comfortable with putting the tax rate at the maximum allowed without triggering a possible rollback election. If the past is any indication, however, there will likely be some speeches bemoaning the new state revenue limit that commissioners feel has forced them to get as much revenue as possible now.

53. Consider and take appropriate action on the Travis County Healthcare District DBA Central Health FY 2020 Budget. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Although Central Health has its own governing body, it still needs to get its budget approved by the Commissioners Court. Unlike the county, Central Health is not subject to the new 3.5 percent revenue limit, which is why it may not feel as much pressure to go all the way up to the 8 percent rollback rate, as the Commissioners Court and City Council do.

You can expect some questions about Central Health’s management of Sendero, its insurance plan, as well as its plans for building new clinics in eastern Travis County.

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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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