Southwest Austin Dripping Springs Edition | January 2023


County to seek bond in 2023


VOTERAPPROVED FUNDS Travis County will ask voters for funds for capital and road projects in November. While the amount and scope of the bond has not yet been nalized, here is how past bonds in the county have fared.

Hays Co. public defender’s oce to open The county will have a public defender’s oce after a yearslong uphill battle to make it a reality. The county was initially denied funding in early 2019 for the oce, and it was not until more than a year later that the county was able to come up with the funding for it. The county received $44.7 million of Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds under the American Rescue Plan Act, of which $5 million was approved in August 2021 for the oce; after the initial $5 million runs out, the commissioners will need to plan for oce funding during the annual budget process. In May, the commissioners selected Neighborhood Defender Service Inc. to take on the oce, and in November, the contract was approved. The NDS will take on the equivalent of 1,434 misdemeanor cases annually over the next ve years, according to the contract, wherein a misdemeanor counts as one misdemeanor case and a felony counts as 1.87 misdemeanor cases. NDS is in the process of seeking sta and a physical location to rent. The oce is expected to open by spring. PUBLIC DEFENDER’S OFFICE ESTABLISHED Neighborhood Defender Service Inc. will serve as the public defender’s oce in Hays County, aimed at tackling mental health- related cases and providing a defense to those who cannot aord it.

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Bond cost


serve for about eight months. Committee members are required to be Travis County residents without delinquent taxes and not employed or associated with a business that will prot from bond projects. All committee meetings will be open to the public and held after normal business hours. Acquired parkland, built new facilities and protected park resources Built new roadways, widened existing roadways and added lanes to roadways Would have been used to build a new Travis County Civil and Family Courthouse Acquired parkland, built new facilities and protected park resources Built new roadways, widened existing roadways and added lanes to roadways


TRAVIS COUNTY In 2023, voters in Travis County can expect a Novem- ber bond election that would go toward improving roads, parks and other facilities. The specic projects and cost esti- mate for the bond will be determined by a 15-member court-appointed Bond Advisory Committee, which will meet weekly to determine the county’s most critical needs. “Travis County’s Citizen Bond Advi- sory Committee is a way for the public to let us know what they would like to prioritize in the next bond package,” Travis County Precinct 3 Commis- sioner Ann Howard said. “Whether it is transportation, the environment, facility planning, nance or health care, community involvement will

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shape Travis County’s future.” Each Travis County commissioner appointed three members to the bond advisory committee on Jan. 10. Travis County Judge Andy Brown appointed the committee chair, John Langmore, who also served as chair for Travis County’s 2017 bond committee. Those will begin meeting in January and

Austin, Travis County keep focus on stang


AUSTIN In 2022, Austin and Travis County targeted job vacancies by increasing their minimum wage from $15 to $20. City Manager Spencer Cronk highlighted the stang shortages as the priority for the scal year 2022-23 budget, after the vacancy rate reached nearly 16% of Austin’s budgeted positions in May. The city said applications for open positions jumped 43.67% when the new wage went into eect. Still, the BY KATY MCAFEE & BEN THOMPSON

overall vacancy rate remained above 16% as of early December. Hector Nieto, Travis County public information ocer, said the vacancy rate improved following the mini- mum wage hike and was at 3% as of January. As of Jan. 1, the Travis County Sheri’s Oce’s vacancy rate ranged from 18% to 32% by department. Kristen Dark, the sheri’s oce’s PIO, said more than 100 applicants are going through the hiring process in January.

The city and county have seen mixed results after raising their minimum wage from $15 to $20 an hour to address vacancies. City job applications increased 43.67% after higher wages took e ect. The city vacancy rate was at 16% as of early December. The county vacancy rate was at 3% as of early January.

84% of the Hays County jail population was being held pretrial as of Dec. 25. 108 days was the median length of stay for those held pretrial.



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