Austin City Council

Geographic Representation
2:13 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

First Step in Austin's Redistricting Process: A Diverse Commission

A detail of a map released by the City Auditor's office, plotting where redistricrting commission applicants live.
KUT News

This summer, Austin will begin drawing its first city council districts.

The long slog towards geographic representation has been an uphill one: a fight to get the measure on the ballot, a hard-fought campaign and, once the measure was approved, fear an all-volunteer committee to draw council districts would fail to attract diverse and representative candidates. But with the help of the city auditor and community groups, the list of applicants has swelled from fewer than a hundred nearly two weeks ago to just under 250 at last count on Feb. 14.

Read more
Austin Energy
8:29 am
Fri February 15, 2013

At Council: Independent Austin Energy Board Gets First OK

Right now, Austin is the largest city in the U.S. where the city council governs a municipal energy utility.

Despite protests from some clean energy and consumer advocates, the Austin City Council voted unanimously last night to take to the first step towards creating a board of legal and energy experts to oversee Austin Energy. 

The resolution directs the city manager to develop the ordinance that will outline the dynamics of this board by March 21. While the board will oversee Austin Energy, city council will retain final approval of electric rates, transactions of more than $100 million and any board nominees.

Read more
Austin
3:08 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

City Council Update: Austin Energy Hearing; Vets Board, Music Venue Program Approved

flickr.com/ennuiislife

Update: The council gave preliminary approval to an independent Austin Energy board Thursday night. You can read more here.

Original Post:The Austin City Council has made short work of today’s agenda, passing most items early.

One agenda item is still outstanding, and should create some sparks: a resolution calling for an independent governance board to oversee operations at Austin Energy.

Read more
The Lead
9:09 am
Thu February 14, 2013

The Lead: Vote on Independent Austin Energy Board, SXSW Film Wristbands on Sale

Some wonder if city council should be tasked with managing a utility the size of Austin Energy
Joy Diaz, KUT News

Happy Valentine's Day! The National Weather Service says Austin is looking to stay sunny with high 60s in this afternoon. 

Lead Story: Austin City Council votes today on a measure that could create an independent board to oversee Austin Energy. The resolution is sponsored by Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and Council Member Bill Spelman. 

Read more
Austin
5:07 am
Thu February 14, 2013

Can an Independent Crime Lab Ease Austin's Testing Backlog?

Austin's crime lab is running behind in testing. This week, police chief Art Acevedo was asked why.
City of Austin

The backlog in forensic DNA evidence in Austin is so serious that local judges and the Travis County district attorney called the mayor and City Council members to discuss the situation. Then they followed up with letters.

On Tuesday, the council agreed to fund three new jobs for forensic chemists. But the embarrassment prompted council member Laura Morrison to promote a new idea in dealing with the city’s forensic needs.

Read more
City Hall Hustle
5:31 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

City Hall Hustle: The Middle-Year Itch

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and City Council Member Kathie Tovo were at odds on what to do with a $14 million mid-year surplus.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

What’s $14 million between friends? Grounds for argument, if the Austin City Council is any indication.

On Tuesday the council wrangled with how to spend a $14 million mid-year budget surplus, the result of higher than expected sales tax and development revenues. The day’s big winner? Affordable housing initiatives, which were earmarked for $10 million. 

Read more
Austin Energy
3:49 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Should an Independent Board Oversee Austin Energy?

Karen Hadden, director of the SEED Coalition, at a press confernece in front of City Hall.
Bobby Blanchard KUT News

Austin Energy’s power structure is up in the air.

Tomorrow, the Austin City Council will vote on a resolution that would relinquish much of its control of the city-owned utility to an appointed board of legal and energy experts. Currently, the city council oversees Austin Energy. But following the recommendation of the Electric Utility Commission – not to mention the council’s protracted and politically-fraught redesign of electric rates – Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and City Council Member Bill Spelman are supporting a resolution that would change that.

Read more
Austin City Council
5:16 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

City Council Allocates Austin's $14 Million Budget Surplus (Update)

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole offers her thoughts on the budget to her colleagues.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

Update: In a protracted and somewhat testy meeting, the Austin City Council budgeted and allocated the sum of the city’s $14 million budget surplus.

The day’s big winner? Affordable housing initiatives, which were earmarked for $10 million. Wildfire fuel mitigation received a little over $1 million, the Child Inc. after-school program received $557,000, and a pilot program for 24 hour patrol of the Hike & Bike Trail received $350,000. You can view a complete list of the council’s actions.

Read more
Austin City Council
3:02 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Nothing But Net Revenues: Here's Your City Council Budget Brackets

Mayor Lee Leffingwell thinks funding for some initiatives is a slam dunk.
Flickr user mvongrue, http://bit.ly/12nQ9Ck; Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

We’re still about a month away from March Madness, but Austin City Council members are already filling out their brackets.

The council is deliberating what to do with a $14 million budget surplus at mid-fiscal year – the result of higher-than-expected sales tax and development revenues. The council held one work session delving into the topic already; at its work session tomorrow, the council’s posted to take action spending all or part of the available surplus.

Read more
Business
8:03 am
Fri February 8, 2013

Seeing Fewer Cars on the Road Today? Here's Why

The City of Austin is encouraging employees to work from home today.
flickr.com/_fabio

If you’re going into work today, you must not have gotten the memo.

Today, many City of Austin employees and employees from some local business are partaking in Austin’s first “Work from Home Day." It's a citywide initiative to reduce the environmental impact of thousands of people driving to work.

Read more
Austin
5:33 am
Fri February 8, 2013

Diversity Lacking Among Austin's District Commission Applicants

The next Austin City Council will be chosen by district.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Austin’s city auditor is practically begging more people to apply to be on the board that will draw the first geographic districts for the City Council. So far, fewer than 100 have applied, and they are overwhelmingly white and male.

It’s not the kind of wide participation proponents of the charter amendment that created district representation had in mind. But it’s similar to what happened in San Diego, a city that was just redistricted in 2011.

Read more
Austin
12:32 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Austin Businesses Prep for Bag Ban

Don't be turned inside out by Austin's single-use bag ordinance, going into effect March 1.
flickr.com/slice

Austin’s ban on some single-use bags goes into effect in just over three weeks. Today, area businesses will get training on the new bag rules.

The city is holding two training sessions for restaurants, grocery stores and retail stores: one this morning, and another one at 6 p.m.

Read more
City Hall Hustle
4:11 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

City Hall Hustle: The State of the City, Now and Next Election

Mayor Lee Leffingwell, delivering his 2013 State of the City address at a Real Estate Council of Austin luncheon this week.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

There’s no City Council meeting this week: Instead, City Hall watchers’ eyes were on Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s 2013 State of the City address, delivered at a Real Estate Council of Austin luncheon on Tuesday.

Owing in part to Austin’s good fortunes, the mayor’s speech is traditionally a rosy affair, full of economic achievements. And that was the case this time:  “Austin, Texas is today, I think without question, one of the most widely admired and most emulated cities in America,” said Leffingwell in one of the speech’s many paeans to the city.

Read more
Austin City Council
1:13 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Live Blog: Mayor Leffingwell's 2013 State of the City Address

Mayor Leffingwell, deliving the 2013 State of the City address today.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

That's a Wrap: That does it for Mayor Leffingwell's remarks. At the bottom of this post, you can view a video of the mayor's remarks. And keep reading below for a recap of the mayor's speech. 

Wages for Construction Workers: Speaking about city economic incentives, Leffingwell says he does not support a hard wage floor for construction workers on projects receiving city benefits. "I don’t think we ought to change our economic incentive policy to make it an entry-level position," he says. Instead, he says a living wage floor should count as an additional credit to businesses applying for incentives. He also floats the idea of paying a wage difference with public funds.

Read more
Austin City Council
4:11 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

One-Way or Another, Parking, Bike Lanes Coming to Rainey Street

Mobility improvements to the Rainey district are coming, along with an option to make the street one-way.
City of Austin

Transportation and Public Works officials briefed the Austin City Council today on proposed renovations to Rainey Street, the popular entertainment district plagued with more than its fair share of parking and transportation problems.

Officials said converting Rainey Street to a one-way street could add metered parking spaces, two bike lanes, and increased accessibility for those with disabilities, but also presented another, less drastic, proposal that would keep the street a two-way. 

Read more
Austin City Council
3:09 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

At Council: Spelman Pulls Call for Lobbyist Input on Code Rewrite

Council member Bill Spelman abandoned his bid to allow lobbyists to serve on a board overseeing a revamp of city land code.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The hottest item at today’s Austin City Council meeting got dispensed with quickly: the controversial proposal from council member Bill Spelman that would have allowed up to four lobbyists to serve on an 11-member board working to rewrite Austin’s land development code.

“I’m not a great politician but I know that to govern a great city you have to listen to everybody,” Spelman said this morning as he withdrew the item from the agenda. “And I think we are not going to be listening to everybody in as good of a way as we should in this transaction. Nevertheless I will succumb to the inevitable and withdraw this item.”

Read more
Austin
5:13 am
Thu January 31, 2013

Austin Considers Allowing All-Night Access to Trails

The Pfluger Bridge near Lamar Street is a rare section of Austin urban trail open 24 hours.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

The Austin City Council could decide today whether to start a pilot program aimed at keeping some hike and bike trails open 24 hours a day.

The proposal by council member Chris Riley has little support from his peers because it comes with the hefty price tag: a little over $3 million a year for extra police patrols. But whether it goes forward or not, the program is making the city think about how it will patrol trails in the future.

Read more
Austin City Council
4:01 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Should Lobbyists Help Rewrite Austin’s Land Development Code?

City council members Bill Spelman and Kathie Tovo clashed over whether lobbyists should be allowed to serve on a group rewriting development code.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

An admittedly wonky but far-reaching undertaking at the City of Austin is getting started – and the question of lobbyists’ roles in what happens next is putting pressure on the Austin City Council.

All development in Austin is governed by city code – zoning, land uses and just about everything conceivable in the built environment. The Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan – the recently-passed blueprint for the city’s long-term growth – calls for a revision of the city’s dense, endlessly-amended development code, and in December the council obliged. Late last year, it passed a resolution calling for an 11-member advisory group to craft changes and revisions to the code.

Read more
Austin City Council
10:51 am
Wed January 30, 2013

What Should Austin Do With a $14 Million Surplus?

An end-of-the-fiscal-year surplus has City Hall abuzz with possibilties.
Liang Shi for KUT News

A larger than expected surplus from fiscal year 2012, plus higher sales tax revenues has Austin City Council members discussing which projects should be funded.

That was the talk yesterday at a special mid-year budget session, and with more than $14 million on the table, the possibilities are near endless.  

Read more
Economy
4:40 am
Fri January 18, 2013

Austin’s Economic Incentive Payments: $19 Million & Counting

This graph produced by the city plots city economic incentive agreements against local unemployment.
Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office, City of Austin

Austin got a look at the return on its investments Thursday. 

The city currently has 11 active economic incentive agreements in place – deals with companies like Visa and Apple stipulating that as long as a company meets negotiated hiring and spending goals, they’ll receive annual benefits from the city, often in the form of tax breaks.  Total incentives, if honored over the course of their entirety, approach $73 million.

Read more

Pages