City Counseling: Sprinting to a Compromise
Council and joggers 'give a little bit' on street closures
Also at the last council meeting, the massive, 2,300-acre Carma development proposed in southeast Travis County hit a major roadblock, as council unanimously opposed state legislation that would've pushed it along. Pending bills would create five special development districts similar to a municipal utility district, a political subdivision which provides water, wastewater, and other utilities to unincorporated areas. As council has clashed with MUDs in the past, it opposed the bills largely on grounds they would usurp too much city control. (Voicing her doubts to In Fact Daily last week, Morrison called the proposal "a super MUD on steroids.") After sounding their opposition to the development districts, however, council members made clear they will revisit the issue at the next meeting by drafting an item spelling out a mutually agreeable way to move forward. "This council wants Carma to come to Austin, Texas," said Mike Martinez.
Council also signed off on a $58.5 million contract with IBM to provide high tech smart-grid-compatible software and billing for Austin Energy; tech-firm Oracle will write the code. Responding to a citizen concern that the project isn't being done locally, purchasing officer Byron Johnson said $12 million will "go through local firms."... Additionally, council approved (on first reading only; two more to come) the staff-drafted waterfront overlay ordinance establishing a Waterfront Planning Advisory Board, and reinstating height limits along Lady Bird Lake (except for large-scale PUDs and PDA projects)... City Manager Marc Ott received sterling accolades from council after his performance review but, due to the city's financial crunch, will stay at the same salary, about $240,000 a year... Council's off this week, set to return May 14. As if anything could get done in the lead up to election day.