Austin Council Getting Back to Work
By Tyler Pratt
Austin City Council members meet this morning for their first regular session in almost a month. The agenda includes a measure that could help bring hundreds of jobs to the city. Another includes what exactly to do with some state-owned land in the middle of town.
The council will look at redeveloping the 500 acres of state land in Austin that includes the Capitol Complex. The measure would bring the city into discussions with the Texas Facilities Commission about what to do with the land. But council member Laura Morrison says she’d rather wait until after next year’s legislative session to get involved.
“That way we can go into this with at least some kind of concept of what our share is going to be,” Morrison said. “Not knowing exactly, moneywise, how much we’re thinking about jumping into, makes me very uncomfortable.”
Also up today: a measure allotting $15 million more to construction of Water Treatment Plant 4. The $360 million project was designed to provide Austin’s growing population with more drinking water. But cost overruns are forcing the water utility to ask for more money to finish the plant. Several environmental groups have opposed its construction. The regular meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m.
The council has a public hearing scheduled for 4 p.m. on tax incentives for the financial company Visa. The company plans to expand its operations in Austin and promises almost 800 new jobs. The city is offering $1.5 million in tax incentives; the state is offering $8 million more.
But some call the incentives a giveaway, saying companies like Visa would be moving to Texas with or without this money.