The Austin Chronicle

Council: Almost Time Again

A busy return from summer break

By Nina Hernandez, August 3, 2018, News

When City Council meets again on Aug. 9 for its first regular meeting in six weeks, the dais will include two outgoing members. Ora Houston announced earlier this summer that she doesn't plan to seek re-election in District 1, and more recently Ellen Troxclair decided she won't run in District 8. Troxclair ran back to her austerity hounds (in this case, Citizens for an Accountable Austin) almost immediately, signing her name to the petition to run an efficiency audit on the city. Houston, on the other hand, promised that she'll use the remainder of her time on the dais to focus on a few key issues. The CMs still vying for re-election (Pio Renteria in D3; Ann Kitchen, thus far unopposed in D5; Kathie Tovo in D9; plus Mayor Steve Adler) must also contend with campaign schedules intensifying in the fall.

And there are a few issues that Council has been saving up for (including expectations that they'll put the kibosh on CodeNEXT, see "CodeNEXT: Kicked," Aug. 3) as next week's agenda comes into focus:

Chapter 380 Agreements

Changes to the city's economic incentive program have been in the works for the better part of the year. The overhaul would mean that the program emphasizes small and local business more than in previous years. The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Capital Area Council of Govern­ments, and the Austin Independent Business Alliance have all declared support for the changes.

Negotiations with Precourt

In June, Council told City Manager Spencer Cronk to put together a basic set of terms for a deal between the city and Precourt Sports Ventures, which wants to bring Major League Soccer to McKalla Place. Plenty of people seem to want MLS in Austin (expect to see pro-soccer scarves out in force), but Leslie Pool – who represents the district that houses McKalla Place – has led concerns about getting a fair deal. See "Precourt’s Plan for McKalla Place," Aug. 3, for more on this one.

Police Sick Pay

This item, if passed, would create a temporary donated sick leave program under the terms of the meet-and-confer agreement that expired in December. (Negotiations for a new contract are ongoing.) The program lets officers donate their sick leave to a colleague who has used all of their allotted hours – a practice most often used when an officer is struck by serious illness or injury. Justice advocates have generally protested these items of late, pointing out that just this spring the Austin Police Association turned its back on an interim deal that would've kept the pre-existing language intact.

Budget Public Comment

Everybody in Austin already has an opinion all of the time, and that is doubly true during the annual carving up of the budget. Expect law-and-order folks to holler for more cops, and others to try to divert any surplus funds (wherever they may exist!) to Health & Human Services. Then watch later as Council haggles over where to put its last buck-fifty.

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