BG Note | News - What We're Reading (April 5, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

Council braces for another tight budget cycle amid threats from Legislature (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

City Council will have to raise property taxes by 5 percent in the Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget just to continue funding existing programs, according to a financial forecast prepared by the city budget office.
In a presentation to Council members on Wednesday, Deputy Chief Financial Officer Ed Van Eenoo projected that Council will have a $750,000 surplus when it begins crafting the budget later this summer. However, that money won’t go very far due to a number of cost drivers, including health insurance...

Dockless bike-sharing issues surface at city forum (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

After more than a yearlong absence, dockless bike-sharing returned to downtown Austin on Wednesday, if only for a few hours.
Representatives from nine different firms that dabble in dockless technology brought their wares and their pitches to the new Central Library for a community forum hosted by the Austin Transportation Department.
The event served as the formal kickoff of the public engagement phase of the department’s ongoing City Council-directed development of a dockless bike-sharing pilot program...
MORE: San Francisco, Seattle Peddle Advice For Austin's Dockless Bike-Share Future (KUT, 4/5/18)

Grove PUD plan postponed (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

The Grove at Shoal Creek Planned Unit Development was back at City Hall for a moment this week. This time, the Zoning and Platting Commission postponed approval of its preliminary plan, with some commissioners citing unanswered questions about the plan, which was submitted well over a year ago.
City Council approved the Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning in December 2016 after months of deliberation at City Hall during often-heated public hearings. Attorney Jeff Howard, who was representing the developers, told commissioners that he believed the review of the preliminary plan had been detailed, lengthy and thorough, and it was time to move forward...

Austin city taxes, fees expected to hit $4,032 for average homeowner (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Thanks to lower-than-expected spending on public safety, Austin will likely end its fiscal year with a tad to spare and, thanks to growth and tax increases, will have more money to play with next year than it did in 2018. As for growth, the city is expecting $3 billion in new construction value in 2019. But be careful, the city staff warned Wednesday. If state lawmakers drop the maximum the city can increase taxes from 8 percent to 4 or 5 percent, city finances will be in trouble in a few years. For next year, city officials are projecting the average homeowner living in a $303,555 house will pay a total of $4,032 in city taxes and utility fees, an increase of $88, according to staff estimates...


Gov. Abbott welcomes Trump plan to send National Guard to Texas border (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

As Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush did before him, President Donald Trump plans to deploy National Guard troops to the border to support law enforcement officials there until the border wall he is seeking can be built.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Wednesday that Trump would sign a proclamation authorizing the deployment and would work with border state governors to “immediately” send troops to the border, perhaps as early as Wednesday night...

Austin lawmaker's $1M stake in Facebook is most in Congress, which is set to grill Zuckerberg (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

With Congress scrutinizing Facebook over a huge privacy breach, lawmakers are also facing questions about their financial stakes in the social networking giant. And it turns out that Austin Rep. Michael McCaul owns at least $1 million in Facebook stock, the most of anyone in Congress. McCaul, one of the richest members of the House or Senate, also reported about $30,000 in capital gains from Facebook holdings in 2016, according to a Roll Call analysis of financial disclosures. The Republican chairs the House Homeland Security Committee.
He does not sit on any of the committees that have requested Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg discuss the massive data breach by Cambridge Analytica, the firm that used data taken from Facebook users without their knowledge...


China targets beef, a top Texas industry, as Trump's trade war escalates (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

The latest punch in President Donald Trump's trade fight with China could hit Texas where it hurts. Among the items included Wednesday on China's new list of proposed retaliatory tariffs are sorghum and beef. Those are cornerstones of Texas' agriculture industry, with the former being dependent on trade to China and the latter viewed as the next big export item to the country. So while earlier skirmishes have generated glancing blows at Texas — hitting pecans, grapefruit and other goods — the latest proposed action could have a more lasting impact...

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