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The courthouse committee is dead; long live the courthouse committee

Thursday, February 4, 2016 by Caleb Pritchard

The Travis County Commissioners Court has given the green light to a new committee to help guide staff in a renewed quest to build a modern civil courthouse. On Tuesday, the court unanimously voted to create the committee with charges almost identical to the Community Focus Committee that served a similar role during the buildup to last November’s failed bond referendum on a $287 million courthouse. At Commissioner Brigid Shea’s request, the court added to the committee’s list of considerations the social and economic impact a courthouse would have on areas where it could potentially be built. Shea said that she wanted the court’s directives to reflect the input the county received during the election when several high-profile advocates argued for building the courthouse in East Austin rather than downtown. “I don’t want to mislead people to think if we located a courthouse in East Austin, suddenly it will cause a renaissance of business units around it,” Shea said. “Part of what I envision in the social and economic impact is to just understand what they might be.” The court also agreed on a 4-0 vote, with Commissioner Ron Davis abstaining, to limit the membership of the new committee to 25 appointees, or five from each commissioner. Members from the previous courthouse committee will be eligible to sit on the new one.

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