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Council: The Budget Starts Buzzing

Vested interests on the dais

By Michael King, Fri., May 9, 2014

It's the beginning of budget season, and there's no regular City Council meeting this week, although budget deliberations begin in earnest with a work session this morning (May 8), as Council members begin to stretch themselves out on the budget material provided by the financial planning staff last week. (These are not yet action meetings, but we'll begin to see where the members stand on the basic budget parameters laid out in the City Manager's proposal.)

Last week's (May 1) heavy-lifting items were the vested development rights (grandfathering) revisions and the Baylor House historic zoning hearing. After lengthy discussions, both moved a bit, but both will eventually be returning after first reading votes. The Chronicle's Amy Smith tries to get her arms around the development rights ordinance, below, and the Baylor House historic landmark status passed on first reading only, 5-2 (with Leffingwell and Spelman dissenting) – where it may well die aborning, as the designation will require a six-vote supermajority to overturn the current landowner's opposition to preserving the house.

There was also extended discussion of a resolution to ask staff to put together a study plan on the South Lamar Neighborhood, specifically to address the problems raised by increasing off-corridor infill development. Nobody quarreled with the study, but there ensued a curious exchange between sponsor Laura Morrison and Bill Spelman over specific whereas clauses – a fairly academic discussion that had to be held on the dais, Mor­rison noted, because her proposal already had two co-sponsors, so Spelman's suggestions couldn't be pursued during office hours without running afoul of the Open Meetings Act. (Draw your own conclusions, and send them on a postcard to the County Attorney.)

Looming on the May 15 draft agenda is a resolution that would re-assert the city's interest in pursuing possible alternatives to SH 45 (aka the Aquifer Highway), and a brace of resolutions by CM Chris Riley hoping to find a way to integrate what are now being called "Transportation Networking Com­panies" (i.e., ride-sharers and the like) into the city's transit system – expect plenty of angst from stakeholders. There's also a public hearing scheduled on Lake Austin shoreline development, an increasingly contentious Task Force subject. Beyond that, among the many enticing proclamations is one for Internal Audit Week – a good occasion to sharpen those pencils.

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