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County commissioners stay busy on Election Day

Thursday, November 5, 2015 by Caleb Pritchard

Despite an abbreviated agenda aimed at allowing county staff to attend to flood recovery and an election, Tuesday’s Travis County Commissioners Court did not lack in drama or big decisions. In addition to an extended row involving the Confederate flag, the commissioners also approved two high-profile items worth noting. On a 3-0 vote, with Commissioner Brigid Shea abstaining and Commissioner Margaret Gómez off the dais, the court approved the adoption of the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of potential employees. Staff told the commissioners last week that an executive order signed by former Gov. Rick Perry essentially required the change. On Tuesday, Shea repeated concerns that she aired last week about the system and what the feds ultimately do with the data collected through it, but the item easily passed without much debate. In another important vote, the commissioners unanimously approved a new policy framework to operate ground-leases with private entities. It was crafted with the proposed Civil & Family Courts Complex bond proposal in mind but will maintain its relevance on other projects in the wake of the bonds’ narrow defeat on Tuesday. The policy will help guide the county on future development projects that could feature innovative revenue stream opportunities. In the Courts Complex case, county planners had envisioned a second tower on the site built concurrently by a private developer with a ground lease for up to 20 years. While that plan is in limbo for now, the county’s Master Plan envisions similarly novel plans for other projects in the future.

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