The Austin Chronicle

Running the Numbers

Council preview 10/14/10

By Wells Dunbar, October 15, 2010, News


Number of items on City Council's agenda for Thursday, Oct. 14

$30 million

Amount of Federal Aviation Administration, Transportation Security Administration, and other federal grants ready to be accepted by Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (Item 3)

2.5 miles

The approximate length of the stretch of Airport Boulevard, from I-35 to Lamar, slated to be revamped by council's form-based code initiative. Today, council is scheduled to select a firm for the project; Gateway Planning Group is the staff recommendation, while Design Workshop is listed as an alternate. The $453,000 contract is to develop FBC for Airport – basically, land zoning based on design compatibility rather than land use – with the hopes it can be extrapolated to future zoning across the entire city. (Item 12)


The retail space allotted to local vendors required in the master development agreement between the city and developers Constructive Ventures (working on behalf of Trammel Crow) in the redevelopment of the Austin Energy Control Center Downtown, between Second Street and the Seaholm power plant. Other lofty goals in the agreement include a $2.7 million affordable housing fund payment, a $250,000 Art in Public Places match, paying the "prevailing wage" to construction workers on the project, making all buildings LEED Gold certified, and more. (Items 13-14)


Cost to execute a contract with Volatility Managers to act as a residential rate adviser in Austin Energy's rate review process, leading up to a rate change in 2012. The two-phase contract initially analyzes rates and cost of service, with an optional Phase II portion during which the contractor will issue final recommendations and participate in rate-making hearings. (Item 29)


The city's Employees' Retirement System funded ratio (assets compared to liabilities). That's well below the generally recommended 80%, so the city's considering controversial changes to its retirement and pension system, including a new benefit system for new employees. Instead of qualifying for normal retirement benefits at age 62, age 55 with 20 years of service, or any age with 23 years of service, new employees would have to reach age 62 with 30 years service or age 65 with five years of creditable service. Retiring at 55 with 10 years' service is possible, but would bring reduced benefits. The changes would have to be approved by the Legislature. (Item 15)


Number of oft-delayed zoning items related to the Domain: Item 46, the restrictive covenant lengthening the time the mixed-use center has to dedicate 9 acres of private parkland (until certain sections of a residential development are completed, a dicey proposition in this economy); Item 47, Endeavor's request to bypass the big-box ordinance for a development over 100,000 square feet (requiring neighborhood notification and public hearing); and Item 48, Simon's agreement with Endeavor to swap greenspace so Simon can exceed the 80% impervious cover limit by 3%


Number of public purposes (promoting Austin's unique character; enhancing Austin's quality of life; promoting civic pride; contributing to Austin's arts, food, and culture; and promoting Austin's small locally owned mobile food vendors) promoted by the Austin Trailer Food Festival, Nov. 6, at Auditorium Shores, hence the city's waiving and reimbursement of fees. (Item 34)


Cost of a contract with one of two finalists to develop a cost-of-service study for the Planning and Development Review Department; during the recently concluded budget season, one complaint held that development fees don't reflect the true cost of staff time. (Item 32)


Posted time (they can't start any earlier, but they can sure start later) for the council's two briefings: a presentation by the ETC Institute on results of the 2010 city of Austin Citizen Survey and a heads-up from the Parks and Recreation Department on its long-range plan. (Items 43, 44)


Number of items on the zoning agenda.

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