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Council may postpone adoption of drainage fee

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 by Tyler Whitson

According to a discussion at Tuesday’s City Council work session, Council may postpone a vote on restructuring the city’s drainage fee until its June 26 June 25 meeting. The item is on Thursday’s agenda, but Council Member Ann Kitchen raised the possibility of delaying the item, pending today’s conversation about it at the Council Public Utilities Committee, on which she sits. “We have no opportunity to bring back any changes in a work session, and I don’t know yet if we’re going to work through everything (at the committee meeting) on Wednesday or not,” she said. “We certainly wouldn’t want to delay this to August, but if we do have another meeting scheduled for Thursday that we could put it on, I’m just wondering if that’s an option.” Watershed Protection Department Deputy Director Joe Pantalion responded to the request. “Certainly there’s a sense of urgency to approve the rate structure so that we can have the parcel information and billing ready to go for (the start of the new fiscal year on) Oct. 1,” he said. “We can work with that (request).” No Council members present at the work session disagreed with the request, and Council Member Ellen Troxclair concurred. “I know that we’re on a tight deadline, but at the same time it’s going to have a huge impact on everyone in Austin,” she said. “So I think that if we need another week to make sure that the changes are well thought through and that we have an opportunity to discuss them at work session, that would be my preference.” Watershed Protection Director Victoria Li originally requested that Council adopt the structure by the beginning of this month. Council tentatively adopted the ordinance on May 21 but sent it back for committee review after hearing criticisms of the proposal from public speakers. State District Judge Amy Clark Meachum ruled in June 2014 that the current drainage charge violates Texas law. The city appealed that ruling and the courts have granted a stay on the appeal. That stay expires on Oct. 22.

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