BG Note | News - What We're Reading (September 6, 2017)
Austin helping cities hit by Hurricane Harvey (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
City Council unanimously approved mutual aid agreements with the cities of Houston and Victoria at a special called meeting on Tuesday in the wake of devastation from Hurricane Harvey. Mayor Steve Adler and Council members Leslie Pool and Greg Casar were attending to other business.
As of Monday night, a city official said there were only about 250 guests in Austin’s Met Center, the shelter for those evacuated from Houston and other cities inundated by Harvey. The state had originally asked Austin to shelter 7,000 evacuees, but that number dwindled as people went to other places and returned home.
An Austin-made app proved crucial to Harvey rescuers (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
Austin mulls backing out of multimillion-dollar tax deal with The Domain developers (Community Impact) LINK TO STORY
One Austin City Council member proposed the city back out of its tax abatement deal with the developers of The Domain to collect more revenue and allow more flexibility in the city budget.
District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool made the proposal during Tuesday’s special called city council budget meeting. Through the current agreement with developer Simon Property Group LP, inked in 2004, the city would pay back $466,000 in property tax and $1.5 million in sales tax in the fiscal year 2018, according to Economic Development Department spokesperson Melissa Alvarado. The Domain deal is the oldest active economic development agreement on the books.
Austin sales tax revenue lower than expected (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
City Council has known for months that it would struggle to come up with the money needed to cover many of the programs its members hope to put in place in the coming year. However, the most recent data on sales tax revenue suggests things might be even worse than anticipated.
In June, the most recent month available for analysis, city sales tax revenue was 7.2 percent lower than at the same point last year.
It hasn’t been bad all year; revenue in May was 7.3 percent higher than May of 2016. The month-to-month data has been extremely volatile.
‘Downtown puzzle’ plan sets aside millions for Austin music (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
City Council endorsed one new plan for hotel occupancy taxes last week. At the end of this month, it will take up another. Last Tuesday’s release of Mayor Steve Adler’s Initial Financing Framework for Downtown Investments – known colloquially as his “downtown puzzle” plan – puts some numbers to a recently simmering idea for the city to inject millions of dollars annually into Austin’s commercial music industry.
The money would be part of a 2 percentage-point increase in the city’s Hotel Occupancy Tax, much of which would be used to fund the expansion of the Austin Convention Center. So-called overflow funds from the tax increase are projected to generate $3.1 million for commercial music in the first year of implementation, with that amount expected to grow as the area’s hotel revenues increase.
Texas Supreme Court declines to revive Austin’s billboard fee (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
Austin has lost the latest — and perhaps final — round in a court battle over billboard fees. The state Supreme Court on Friday declined to hear appeals in the case, letting stand a 2016 appellate court ruling that struck down the city’s $190 annual billboard fee as an unconstitutional tax. Austin collected $98,430 in billboard fees in fiscal 2015, the most recent figure available Tuesday. “We are disappointed in the Texas Supreme Court’s decision not to take the case,” city spokesman David Green said Tuesday.
Austin-Area 'Dreamers' Express Fear And Hope In Wake Of DACA Decision (KUT) LINK TO STORY
Demonstrators gathered outside Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office Tuesday to protest the White House decision to get rid of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Paxton forced the administration to make a decision when he wrote a letter to President Trump in June, asking him to overturn the policy or face a lawsuit from Texas and nine other states.