The Austin Chronicle

Council: About Those Tax Bills ...

By Michael King, June 6, 2014, News

There's no regular City Council meeting this week – they chewed on the budget in work session, and heard mostly the Usual Suspects on the Usual Subjects in a special-called "Citizens Forum" last Saturday. Next regular meeting is Thursday, June 12 – and the draft agenda is beginning to fill (currently at 119 items, and likely to lengthen by Friday's deadline) with previously postponed or extended items. One headliner that day will be the third reading of the "vested development rights" (grandfathering) ordinance, so peppered with amendments during its previous appearance that Council members themselves weren't entirely sure what they'd done. Presumably that will be clarified next week.

The longstanding argument over utility costs associated with new construction hits the dais with a proposal for "full cost recovery of Austin Energy line extensions" (with an affordable housing exemption), triple-sponsored by Council Members Kathie Tovo, Laura Mor­ri­son, and Mike Martinez. Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole has a few resolutions still (as of Wednesday) in search of co-sponsors: a pilot of "Social Impact Financing" (a kind of conditional public lending dependent on successful outcomes); a plan for a "Butler Trail Public Art Plan Overlay" (apparently the Trail doesn't currently occupy enough volunteer art critics); updated action on the African Amer­ican Quality of Life Initiative; and development of a "Compre­hensive Management Plan" for the city's urban forest (something they've taken a shot at once or twice before).

Speaking of eternal returns, Tovo, Morrison, and Bill Spelman want to add property tax reform and sales price disclosure to the city's legislative agenda – as it has been, and will ever be; Tovo and Morrison also propose a related challenge to the Travis County Appraisal District's approach to commercial property valuations; and Tovo, Morrison, and Martinez want to tie future economic incentives to an agreement by the receiving companies not to protest their TCAD assessments. Property tax sticker shock is definitely in the air – as is the fall election campaign.

There's more where those came from: a living wage review; a resolution endorsing the new Environmental Protection Agency rules on greenhouse gases; and second and third readings of the new regs on Lake Austin shoreline development and use.

Should be a very full evening.

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