City Council Thursday: COVID-19 relief spending approved, special meeting on Austin Police

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – It’s was a busy Thursday for Austin City Council, who took up its usual agenda ahead of a special meeting related to the Austin Police Department’s response to police brutality protests last weekend.

KXAN has reported on two young people who were shot in the head by police with beanbag rounds, considered by law enforcement to be “less-than-lethal” ammunition. Justin Howell, 20, remains in critical condition.

Some advocates are encouraging city leaders to deduct funding from APD and use it for other resources. Hundreds of people have signed up to speak in front of council beginning at 3 p.m.

Early Thursday morning, hackers associated with “Anonymous” claimed they were able to take the city’s website offline. Throughout Thursday morning, the site austintexas.gov was intermittently unavailable, but city spokesman David Green said it was too early to tell what the actual cause was.

“We’re seeing a high volume of web traffic and the IT folks are working on it,” Green said. He said the streaming service that broadcasts the meeting runs on a separate server and the meeting can still be viewed online.

Here’s what else we’re following:

Auto Theft Prevention: Approved

As advocates and city leaders expect to place a heavy microscope on APD’s budget, one item would allow for the department to apply for and receive $430,685 in grants for a program aimed at reducing vehicle thefts and recovering stolen vehicles.

Council documents say the dollars from the Texas Motor Vehicle Crime Prevention Authority would cover personnel and other costs for the program during next year’s budget. The city would match $173,182.

Documents say the program allows police to better target “theft for profit” offenders.

Council is expected to take up this item in the afternoon during its special called meeting and broader discussions about APD.

COVID-19 relief dollars: Amended and Approved

City staff put together an outline for spending federal and city dollars on COVID-19 relief. The spending framework includes an estimated $105.5 million for emergency response, an estimated $62.9 million for Medical and Public Health Needs, and an estimated $103.2 million for economic support.

The total spending estimate is $271.6 million.

Council amended some of the allocations toward the RISE Fund, Small Business Assistance, Non-profit Assistance, Creative Sector Assistance and Rental Assistance. The totals are outlined below:

Austin City Council Spending Framework for COVID-19 Funds (City of Austin Photo)

Feeding student caregivers: Approved

Council approved a $1.3 million agreement with the Austin Public Health Foundation to provide emergency meals for caregivers of students in Austin-area schools who are experiencing food shortages due to COVID-19.

This follows a resolution passed by council members last month. The meals would be delivered through district distribution sites.

Council documents say the funding will last through August 31.

Studying the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes, others: Approved

Another agreement with the University of Texas Dell Medical School allows the school to conduct a study to analyze and identify ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes, assisted living centers, and other long-term care facilities.

The agreement would be worth $210,000 for a term of June 1 through December 31.

Council documents say that reports will be provided to the City by the end of June, the end of July, with a final report being shared with the city at the end of the calendar year.

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