AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council meets Thursday, Sept. 14. Here’s some of what KXAN is watching.
EMS labor contract: Approved
The Austin Emergency Medical Services Association (AEMSA) has voted to approve a new labor agreement with the City of Austin. Austin City Council voted to approve the agreement Thursday.
According to Selena Xie, president of AEMSA, members voted 93% in favor of the contract with a majority (65%) of its members voting.
“The City and AEMSA grew to understand and appreciate their respective priorities over the negotiation process, eventually coming to an agreement that focuses on retention that both believe will begin to address long-standing critical staffing shortages,” the city said in a statement before the union vote.
Other previously covered items
- Closing loophole that allows windowless apartment bedrooms: Approved
- City council considers expediting expansion at Austin airport: Approved
- Former Candlewood Suites hotel contract extension: Withdrawn from this meeting
- Semiconductor company expansion, setting public hearing: Public hearing conducted
Austin Police Department data: Approved
Some Austin City Council members want more robust and frequent data from the Austin Police Department.
Council voted in favor of an amended resolution Thursday that will ask the police department to post monthly data on its portal including the following:
- Demand for police services, including call type, priority level, how fast a unit arrived and number of officers for every call
- Mental health services, including a list of mental health calls resulting in serious bodily injury or death
- Supply of police services, including number of personnel, overtime hours worked and number of retirements each month
Now approved, that data would be published on the city’s existing Open Data Portal starting in March 2024 and would include data for the previous 36 months. It would be updated monthly, if passed as written.
“I want to talk about larger trends, I want to look at the data and see what is most effective — where officers are needed, how many officers are needed — those are data-driven questions,” said Council Member Chito Vela, the author of the resolution.
Vela said additional money was recently approved to increase the number of full-time employees working on data within the department. The budget was approved last month.
The city manager is asked to return to council in December with how the data roll out will be implemented and the budget needed.
Austin Tourism Public Improvement District: Approved
Austin City Council took up once again and approved a revised version of the Austin Tourism Public Improvement District after postponing a vote on draft language from city staff. The ATPID has been in the works for years.
Several council members said prior to Thursday they’d since come to a new agreement with the Austin Hotel Lodging Association that will put more money towards reimbursing the City of Austin while the Austin Convention Center is Closed.
“Without this change, the City would have only received a fraction of the money contemplated under the agreement during this time,” Council Member Ryan Alter, who plans to bring forward the amendment alongside Council Member Vanessa Fuentes, said.
The creation of that PID would generate money largely used to incentivize and attract new events and bring additional tourism to Austin alongside retaining existing events. That would include safety and homelessness improvements.
It would mostly be visitors who foot the bill. Hotels within Austin city limits that have 100 rooms or more would be taxed 2% of gross room revenue, “which reflects the special benefits accruing to the hotel properties because of the services provided by the ATPID funding,” the draft service plan says. Hotel owners would sign off on an ATPID petition and some would be on the board overseeing the PID.
The PID would be in place at a time when hotels are likely to lose business while the Austin Convention Center is being reconstructed.
As it’s written, the ATPID would last for a term of ten years. The city would need to go back to hotel owners and city council to continue collecting money through the PID at that point.
In a statement to KXAN, Austin Hotel & Lodging Association’s president Denise Eisman said the PID “will provide much needed funding for supplemental tourism marketing and sales activities,” in turn helping with tourism-related retention and growth.
We are very appreciative of the Austin City Council’s approval of the proposed Service Plan for a potential Austin Tourism Public Improvement District (TPID). The creation of an Austin Tourism PID will provide much needed funding for supplemental tourism marketing and sales activities that will ensure the retention and growth of major city-wide conventions, events, and hotel activity. With the city council’s approval of the proposed Tourism PID Service Plan, Austin hotel leaders can now seek petition signatures from over 60 percent of the hotel ownership groups in order to formally ask the Austin City Council to create an Austin Tourism Public Improvement District.Denise Eisman, president, Austin Hotel & Lodging Association
Now that council has signed off on the service plan, Council Member Vanessa Fuentes said the plan will go back before hotels within Austin’s city limits who would be impacted by the PID. She said once that’s been reviewed by city hotels, that’ll come back before council again for another consideration later this fall.
“I know we’ve been working on this thing for years and years and years, and that’s why I’m so glad we’re finally at the finish line,” Council Member Zohaib “Zo” Qadri said.