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TipSheet: Travis County, 9.29.15

Tuesday, September 29, 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.

1. Receive comments regarding the Travis County Tax Rate for the FY16 Budget. (Judge Eckhardt)

2. Receive comments regarding the FY16 Proposed Budget. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Voters, taxpayers, residents, friends, Romans, and countrymen and -women will get their last chance to formally reveal to commissioners their opinions on the proposed tax rate and budget for the next fiscal year. Two prior tax rate hearings came and went without much tax rate-related fanfare. The first was dominated by activists urging the commissioners to restore in-person visitations at county jail facilities. The second opened and closed without any participation from the public. It appears that by lowering the proposed tax rate this year, the commissioners may have managed to dodge both castigation and commendation.

6. Consider and take appropriate action on exemption from Jail Standards on grandfathering video visitation at the Travis County Jail and Correctional Complex and the possible restoration of in-person visitation. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Video visitation is shaping up to be one of the big issues in the Democratic race for Travis County sheriff. After hearing from activists last Tuesday, Judge Sarah Eckhardt met with members of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards on Thursday to discuss HB 549, a new state law that calls for the restoration of in-person visitations in county jails, certain to-be-determined grandfathered facilities notwithstanding. The commissioners could very well take discussion on this item into executive session, far from the public’s prying eyes.

10. Consider and take appropriate action on Order approving the Travis County Budget for FY16. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: With far less fanfare than their colleagues at City Council, the commissioners are expected to formally adopt the proposed $951 million budget for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. They’re set to give the OK at next week’s meeting to the proposed 41.69 cents per $100 valuation tax (for those keeping score, that’s a hair lower than the current rate of 45.63 cents).

17. Consider and take appropriate action regarding the proposed motion to approve a License Agreement for Willis of Texas, Inc. to hold the Bicycle Sport Shop Six Shooter Cyclocross Race at East Metropolitan Park in Precinct One. (Commissioner Davis)

Monitor’s Take: News of this cyclotrack race at East Metropolitan Park could trigger bad memories of the sport’s national championship event at Zilker Park earlier this year. While that competition drew intense heat on the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department for possibly putting some 57 heritage trees in harm’s way, Travis County officials appear to have learned some lessons. The backup material specifically mentions the efforts staff undertook to protect any trees on this course. The only controversial part of this vote then could be the request for a closed-off “beer garden” section for spectators.

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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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