Austin City Council approves Onion Creek flood memorial, rent assistance

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Onion Creek at Old San Antonio Road_337159

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Here’s what we’re monitoring ahead of Thursday’s Austin City Council meeting.

Flood resilience and Onion Creek memorial: Approved

Council approved a resolution directing City Manager Spencer Cronk to identify funding opportunities to increase flood prevention. The item also asks Cronk provide recommendations to consider placing a Halloween Flood memorial in Onion Creek Metropolitan Park.

The Onion Creek area sustained heavy damage during the Halloween floods of 2013 and 2015.

Speaking of Flooding… (Approved)

Austin continues to pour money into a downtown tunnel designed to prevent flooding. Council approved a $2.2 million contract for a new screen, designed to better clean and filter the Waller Creek tunnel.

“After three years of tunnel operation an engineering evaluation concluded that the cleaning frequency of the existing bosker cleaning devices was not adequate for the excessive amounts of debris being captured, resulting in ‘binding’ of the screens and an inability of the screen to pass even small stormwater flows,” said city staff in agenda documents.

The Waller Creek Tunnel Project, originally approved by voters in 1998, has been hit by “unforeseen conditions, design discrepancies and field adjustments,” according to city records.

The most notable fumble: the original design of a portion of the tunnel obscured a protected sightline of the Texas Capitol. Engineers, the city and designers missed the flaw, and part of the tunnel had to be rebuilt.

Council to release more rent assistance: Approved

Council members authorized the use of rental assistance dollars through the city’s Housing Authority. The latest $6.6 million also comes from federal stimulus money and will provided to vulnerable households through June 30, 2022. The agreement will also include an additional scope of work for marketing and outreach efforts, according to city documents.

Municipal Court Marshal Program: Postponed to Nov. 18

Council approval will allow for the creation of the City Marshal Office as a division of the Austin Municipal Court. This is part of the Austin’s Reimagining Public Safety initiative and would free up APD officers to work in the community.

When the City Marshal Office is fully implemented, APD will transfer its officers from Municipal Court to Patrol or other APD units.

Help for homestead exemptions: Approved

Another approval asks City Manager Spencer Cronk to explore the creation of a Board of Adjustment Applicant Assistance Program for residential homestead applicants who are requesting a special exception.

The applicant’s household income must be less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Level or must participate in one of the following:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)  
  • Telephone Lifeline Program
  • Travis County Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP)
  • Medical Access Program (MAP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH)
  • Medicaid

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