Austin City Council

Photo by Liang Shi/KUT News

The Austin City Council got its first look at budget projections for the next fiscal year today.

Budget managers told council members that falling property values and sales tax collections mean revenue is not keeping up with the cost of maintaining city services at current levels. The projections showed homeowners could face higher property taxes next year.

Image by KUT News

A total of 11 people have filed for the three Austin city council seats up for election this May.  With the filing period over, the city clerk will draw names tomorrow morning to determine the order that names will appear in on the ballot.

Beth Cortez-Neavel

Austin City Council members will hear from Austinites this afternoon on the Imagine Austin Plan Framework. Imagine Austin is the city's comprehensive roadmap to what Austin's will grow up to look like by 2039. As SXSW crowds swamp Austin this weekend, take note; then imagine five SXSW conferences going on all at one time and you'll get a sense of the 750,000 additional people planners expect Austin to absorb by 2039.

KUT News

Michael “Max” Nofziger, who was a former council member from 1987 to 1996 and a well-known flower salesman, will run for the 2011 City Council election. He will have to unseat incumbent Randi Shade, who is running for re-election.  Shade is also facing challenges from Kris Bailey and Chris Nielsen.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Starting in August, people who park downtown will have to keep plugging the meters until midnight, including on Saturdays. Austin City Council voted 6-to-1 Thursday in favor the new policy.  Council member Laura Morrison was the lone holdout. Meters outside downtown will have their hours extended from 8 am until 6 pm. Currently, they run from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.

Photo by Paulo Martins / KUT

The City Council has unanimously approved what it calls an improvement to an existing ordinance that  prohibits people from sitting and lying in sidewalks and in front of buildings.

The ordinance will become effective starting on the 1st of May.

Opponents pointed out that the ordinance did not provide exemptions in instances of extreme weather. Richard Troxell, who heads House the Homeless, called it a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Photo by Callie Hernandez/KUT.

By a vote of 6-1, the Austin City Council today approved charging fees for street parking downtown on evenings and weekends.

The vote extended paid meter downtown until midnight weekdays and all day Saturdays.  Parking meters elsewhere in the city will be enforced from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 

The extended meter hours will take effect sometime after August.

Photo by Callie Hernandez/KUT.

The Austin Bulldog, a non-profit investigative website, has filed a lawsuit against the City of Austin and members of the City Council, alleging they did not disclose records in compliance with the Texas Public Information Act.

KUT News

City officials released thousands of documents Friday under an Open Records Request, including unflattering email exchanges between Mayor Lee Leffingwell and city council members.

The emails expose what goes on behind the scenes and what city council members say and think about city staff members and residents.

Image by KUT News

Former Austin City Council Member Eric Mitchell has died. 

He served just one term on the City Council, from 1994-97.  Bruce Todd was Austin's mayor at the time, and he recalls Council Member Mitchell's forceful style on the dais.

"Sometimes his style was to challenge people coming up to speak to us about one thing or the other, whatever it might be that supported his cause or expressed his interest.  So he was forceful, but that's what you elected officials for," the former mayor told KUT News.

Then try a City Council Work Session!

In what may become a regular feature of Austin city business, the City Council meets today for a pre-council meeting "work session." The sessions, which may precede every Thursday council meeting, allow members to discuss council business in a public forum.

Plastic bags
Image by KUT News

Austin city leaders have been talking about banning plastic bags at stores for a while, but signs for such an ordinance look strong this year. 

“We have a report that we’ve been working on, on the cost impact of plastic bags. That study has been presented to City Hall, we hope to have that in the hands of city council within a couple of weeks,” said Bob Gedert, the City of Austin’s Solid Waste Services director.

That report has not been released to the public yet.

Holly Street Power Plant
Image by Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

CST Environmental, a company based in San Leandro, California, is suing the city because it wasn't awarded a bid to demolish a decommissioned power plant in East Austin, according to the Austin Business Journal.

Callie Hernandez, KUT News

Austin City Council members are voting on some big items today.

solar panels
Image courtesy SunPower

SunPower Corporation announced today that it would build a new U.S. operations center in Austin. It would bring $10 million in capital investment and create 450 jobs. But the city must first cough up $90,000 per year over ten years in economic incentives.

Cowboys Stadium
Image courtesy Cliff Baise

HKS, an architectural firm in Dallas, announced this morning that it will lead the team assembled to build a new Formula One track in Austin. HKS designed and built the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington and the Dell Diamond in Round Rock.

Image courtesy City of Austin

Not a drop of rain in the sky, but it was a wet day at City hall, with the debate over Water Treatment Plant 4 flooding out other items set for the morning’s agenda. 

With a series of close votes, City Council dedicated $300 million dollars to the completion of Water Treatment Plant 4. It effectively gives the project a final green light.  The votes came after hours of sometimes emotional public comment and council discussion. Water Utility Director Greg Mazaros said it made sense for council to approve the remaining funds all in one go.

Austin City Hall
KUT News

Two first-term Austin City Council members announced they will seek reelection in May 2011. Place 3 council member Randi Shade was first to market with her press release at 2:15 p.m. today. Less than an hour later, at 3:11 p.m., Place 1 council member Chris Riley announced that he too would be seeking reelection.

Photo by Katie Hayes for KUT News

Bicycle enthusiasts are reacting with glee to an Austin City Council vote yesterday that approved a deal to build ten miles of bike lanes in Austin.

The deal between the city and the Texas Department of Transportation will see the two split the bill for $1.1 million. TxDOT's share of the cash is coming from the federal government's Transportation Enhancement Program.

Barton Springs Pool

Austin City Council granted a rare privilege today to an 82-year-old Austin woman: a lifetime pass to Barton Springs Pool.

Patty Curtis started swimming at the pool in 1975 when she was 46-years-old.