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Council approves Rocky Mountain Institute agreement

Friday, November 20, 2015 by Tyler Whitson

City Council agreed to sign a co-development agreement with Colorado nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute on a 10-1 vote on Thursday, with Council Member Don Zimmerman casting the dissenting vote. The development agreement includes an in-kind match from the Austin community, but, according to city staff, does not require a budget amendment. It provides a basis for the nonprofit and the city to work together over the next several years on a market-driven “mobility transformation” program for Austin that includes transit integration with mobile technology such as RideScout, electrification of for-hire vehicle fleets, a movement toward autonomous vehicle technology, transportation data analysis and involvement with the CodeNEXT Land Development Code overhaul. Zimmerman said he opposed the agreement because he is concerned about implicit costs and feels that the nonprofit has a “policy objective.” Council Member Ann Kitchen, who chairs the Council Mobility Committee, called that a “mischaracterization,” arguing that Council will continue to make policy decisions and that the agreement will not alter the city budget. After a nationwide search, the nonprofit selected Austin and Denver for its new transportation partnerships.

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