Austin City Council

flickr.com/dingatx

A proposed budget for the City of Austin has the cost of living on the rise – again.

The proposed city budget for 2014, unveiled today, would mean about a $4 monthly increase for owners of a $185,000 home. And that doesn’t include additional rate and fee changes.

tsae.org

When Austinites voted last fall to create the independent commission that will draw the city’s new geographic City Council districts, 14 citizens from all walks of life were chosen to be part of this commission.

The understanding was that average Austinites would lead the process. But it turns out the commission may hire an entire staff to give them a hand.

Wells Dunbar, KUT News

Austin voters will likely be asked to approve bond dollars for affordable housing, after a similar proposition was voted down in last November.

On Monday, city council members Sheryl Cole, Bill Spelman and Chris Riley, along with housing advocates from Keep Austin Affordable, announced their support for a $65 million bond program on the November 2013 ballot. They said the spending could finance more affordable housing – without raising the tax rate.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

The Austin City Council is getting ready for summer recess, but before members take off they’ve been approving projects that eventually could drastically change the look and feel of the city. Thursday’s session may not have seemed like a game-changer, but it has huge implications for the future.

Sinclair Black & Andrew Vernooy

Update (June 20): This morning Austin City Council members decided to go ahead and approve a resolution supporting a I-35 National Environmental Policy Act study for a plan to reconnect East & West Austin by submerging it from approximately River Street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

Council also directed the City Manager to develop an economic impact study and look at associated financing options.

The City of Austin has established its new Citizen’s Redistricting Commission, a group of 14 citizens who will draw the city's first boundaries for city council districts.

In selecting candidates, city officials drew at random from a pool of qualified volunteers. Thursday night, the commissioners met to select candidates who would join them in the task of redistricting. 

KUT News

Austin’s new Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission is expected to be fully in place tonight. That’s the group of Austin residents who will draw the city’s first geographic council districts.

Last November when voters approved the charter that changed the city’s form of government from at-large to geographic, they also approved the establishment of the commission in two steps.

Callie Hernandez for KUT News

A debate over two Austin City Council proposals to track problem rental properties continued into the early hours of the morning.

After hearing from many Austinites about the issue, council members voted unanimously to pass an effort to create a registry for properties with a history of violations. A similar move to track all rental properties in certain parts of the city passed 5 to 2.

City employees will soon be able to take 30 days of paid parental leave.

Courtesy of the City of Austin and Michael Van Valkenburgh

The Austin City Council got a look at the final version of a plan to redevelop the land along Waller Creek into a chain of three parks at its Thursday meeting.

The multi-million dollar public-private partnership, designed by architect Michael Van Valkenburgh, includes hike and bike trails, playgrounds, a pavilion for hosting live music and theater events and even a pontoon bridge that could connect the north and south shores of Lady Bird Lake.

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

City Council's got a full plate today, with everything from parking, rental registries, ride-shares, a possible closure of Auditorium Shores and a measure that could make Austin the first city to offer paid parental leave for city employees. 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/publik16/3116450658/

Guns were used in nearly a quarter of violent crimes and disorderly conduct cases in Austin from 2010 to 2012, according to an analysis by Austin police. 

Crimes most likely to involve the use of a gun were murders and robberies. About 40 percent of murders and 38 percent of robberies involved firearms. More than 17 percent of aggravated assault cases involved the use of guns. Firearms were used in almost three percent of the 675 rape cases reported from 2010 to 2012. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT

The Austin City Council is meeting in a work session today. They could talk about accepting a $3.5 million donation from event production company C3 Presents to make improvements to Auditorium Shores.

C3 Presents is a concert promotion and management company that puts on events such as the Austin Food and Wine Festival at the park. The city approved C3 Presents’ request for a second weekend for the popular Austin City Limits Festival in 2013 and later years.

flickr.com/atmtx

Update: The legislative session adjourns Monday – and Austin City Council members can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

All of the bills below disappeared into the legislative black hole – that is, they either never made it out of committee, or were never cleared for a vote.

Update (March 26): Here’s some additional bills that meet the Austin City Council’s definition of “Austin bashing” – legislation that would defang local policies.

  • HB 1858, Rep. Paul Workman (R-Austin)

The bill would ban cities from restricting the removal of trees if a developer or land owner deems the tree to be a fire hazard. Opponents worry the bill provides a work-around the city’s Heritage Tree Ordinance, and point to an additional piece of Workman legislation, HB 3087, as creating additional development loopholes for removing trees.

I-Hwa Cheng, KUT News

The City of Austin cooled the idea of creating a board to oversee Austin Energy.

The original idea was to form a board whose members are more knowledgeable than city council members are about the electric utility industry, but after concerns that its members would be insufficiently accountable to voters, the plan changed, leaving the proposed board with less authority.

flickr.com/monad68

A five-year effort from a group of Hispanic community leaders is about to wrap up. In 2008, the Austin City Council asked the group to evaluate the quality of life for Hispanics in the city. They found big disparities between Hispanics and their peers in areas including education, health care, even access to cultural institutions.

Last night, about fifty people came together at City Hall to share ideas on how Hispanics in Austin could bridge those gaps.

Callie Hernandez, KUT News

Today the city of Austin moves closer to a new form of government.

It’s the 10-1 plan chosen by voters in the November election: 10 geographic districts drawn by citizens plus the mayor serving at large.

Flickr, Harrison Tran http://www.flickr.com/photos/atx_is_over_9000/8626536854/sizes/m/in/photostream/

The City of Austin is getting ready to unveil its Hispanic/Latino Quality of Life Report.

A draft version of the report is available online and the city is looking for one more round of input from the public before presenting the report to the Mayor and City Council.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

How powerful should an independent Austin Energy board be?

That’s the question the Austin City Council is asking itself. Right now, the council governs the city-owned utility. But council members are talking about turning over that power to an independent board. And haggling over the power of this unelected panel continues to dominate talk at City Hall.

Jeff Heimsath/KUT News

The Austin City Council begins budget talks today after hearing a financial forecast for the city two weeks ago. This morning, the council will discuss budget presentations by city departments.

For the first time, those presentations are available for everyone to watch on the city’s YouTube channel. The city also included a video describing how revenue from taxes and utilities equate to city services.

City of Austin

The City of Austin’s trying something different this budget season: City department officials have made 20 videos that clock in at over 200 minutes, available on the city's YouTube channel.

The videos include everything from a basic overview of how revenue from taxes and utilities equate to city services, to a 25-minute financial forecast of public utility Austin Water. Each department’s financial forecast presentation is available online, so anyone who wants the lowdown on, say, the Public Works department, can get it.

Pages