AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin City Council had its meeting Thursday, and we are keeping track of some key agenda items. Here are some of the things we are watching:
Council to vote on city manager search next step: Approved on Consent
On Thursday, Austin City Council approved on Consent to move forward with a search firm that will help the city recruit its next city manager.
City of Austin Mayor Kirk Watson said Tuesday that the City received 12 applications from search firms but ultimately decided to move forward with Mosaic Public Partners. Council will have final say on whether the City can move forward with that selection.
Mosaic Public Partners has previously helped the City with executive searches, including the hiring of former Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon, the mayor said.
The firm estimated it will take roughly 3-4 months for it to submit an offer to its top candidate after it gets started. A city manager could be named as soon as a month after that, the mayor said.
Still, the mayor said they’ve built flexibility into the timeline to account for holidays, not disrupting the budget process and other unknowns.
“We’re not tying ourselves down, but it is important for us to have these sorts of time frames in our head and be able to move forward,” Watson said in a work session Tuesday.
The City is looking for its next city manager after City Council voted to part ways with former City Manager Spencer Cronk earlier this year. Jesús Garza is serving as the interim city manager until the role is filled.
Nearly $1.6 billion on City Council agenda for convention center expansion: Approved
On Thursday, Austin City Council approved the negotiation and execution of a contract for design and engineering services for the Austin Convention Center Redevelopment project with LMN | Page, a joint venture.
The rebuild is expected to cost $1.6 billion overall, KXAN previously reported, and will be funded by convention center revenue and its allocation of the hotel occupancy tax. In 2019, city council approved an increase of the hotel occupancy tax rate of 2% for the expansion project.
Architecture firm LMN Architects and Page Southerland Page (LMN | Page) were chosen to provide full-scale design and architectural engineering services for the convention center’s expansion, according to the city.
Additionally, JE Dunn Construction and Turner Construction (JE Dunn | Turner) will cover preconstruction and construction services as the Construction Manager-at-Risk firm, the release said.
Austinites will be given the opportunity to weigh in on design options for the new convention center, but the City of Austin has said the design will open up closed streets in the area, better connecting east and west Austin. It will also add green space.
New law could mean fewer parks, less services as Austin continue to grow
Over the next few years, Austin could see fewer and smaller parks as the city continues to grow.
“Up to 97% less park acreage,” Robynne Heymans, with the City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department, said.
HB 1526 recently passed which requires Austin to make changes to the current parkland dedication ordinance.
City rules used to require 9.4 acres of parkland in a development for every 1,000 residents.
“This new bill reduces that,” Heymanns said.
Now depending on where a development goes, it could be three acres or as low as 0.075 acres for every 1,000 people.
The bill’s language pointed to how some developers had a harder time moving forward with projects because of those limitations. The new law only impacts multifamily and hotel and motel developments.
Council approved setting a public hearing to consider an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 related to parkland dedication requirements and state law House Bill 1526. The suggested date for the hearing is Nov. 9, 2023, at Austin City Hall.