News Brief
6:26 am
Tue June 21, 2011

Top Morning Stories June 21, 2011

Give Your Input on AISD Performing Arts Center

The Austin Independent School District is planning to build a district-wide Performing Arts Center at the Mueller redevelopment site. AISD will be gathering public input on the project tonight. As KUT previously reported, the district already bought the land for the facility:

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen wanted to make abundantly clear that the $4 million they were being asked to spend on a 4.5 acre tract could not be used to save teacher positions.

“This project will be funded entirely by the 2008 bond funding that has already been approved by voters,” Carstarphen reminded the board. “Bond proceeds can be used only for capital expenditures, not for salaries, utilities, or other operating expenses.”

Voters approved $40 million in 2008 to be spent on a district-wide performing arts center.  

 

 Tonight's community meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at Reagan High School.

Study Predicts Big F1 Economic Boost

Organizers of next year's planned Formula One race in Austin have been trying to highlight the economic boost the auto race would bring. And, as the Austin-American Statesman is reporting, a new study is out with numbers to back up that claim:

A Formula One race in Austin next year would generate just under $288 million in direct economic impact for the area, according to an estimate released Monday by promoters of the race. That spending would produce $26.6 million in new tax revenue for the state, according to the study.

The numbers are crucial to F1 race promoters' efforts to secure $25 million in public incentive payments from a state program designed to lure large, primarily sporting events to Texas for their economic development potential.

The numbers aren't for certain, which is something the city has to consider: 

Jon Hockenyos, a public policy consultant, reviewed the numbers on behalf of the City of Austin, which must sign off on the incentive deal before it is reviewed by state officials. In a letter dated Monday, he cautioned that because of little historical F1 financial data, "the assumptions for this first event plausibly could vary from what is presented." 

Still, he added, "Overall, it seems likely that the event will have a substantial positive local economic impact."

Firefighters Battling "Bearing Fire"

The Texas Forest Service is now focusing on wildfires in East Texas. One of the biggest ones is the so-called "Bearing Fire" in eastern Trinity County. It's burned over 18,200 acres. A fire official said it started after a trailer pulled off the side of the road and a hot wheel bearing ignited dry grass. 

Anti-Groping Legislation Added to Special Session

Texas Governor Rick Perry has added a new item for lawmakers to consider during this special session. He's trying to revive a bill to ban intrusive airport security pat downs. A bill that would have made that a criminal offense died during the regular session.

Congressional Redistricting Map Advances

A different bill has already landed on the governor's desk -- legislation adopting Texas' new Congressional voting districts. The state Senate yesterday approved House amendments to the proposed redistricting map. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say the new map will more than likely be decided in court.