AUSTIN (KXAN) — Here’s what we’re watching at the Austin City Council meeting on Thursday.
Firefighters Binding Arbitration: Approved
Last May, Austin’s firefighters fought for their right to binding arbitration at the ballot box, winning with an overwhelming majority as 81% of voters approved Proposition A.
This measure allowed the firefighters’ union to demand the right to resolve any contractual disputes with an arbitrator — who decides the dispute instead of a court — if contract talks reached a standstill.
However, the city’s labor relations office notified the firefighters’ union in February it “won’t be participating in any binding arbitration process,” because it believes the measure contradicts state law.
In response, council member Ann Kitchen brought forward a resolution, which was approved on consent Thursday, that would have the city staff comply with Prop A.
“This resolution clearly states our city’s intent to respect the will of the voters with regard to binding arbitration,” she said.
This item is of great importance to Austin firefighters, who are currently conducting wage negotiations with the city.
Guaranteed Income Pilot Programs: Approved
This now approved guaranteed income pilot program launches a yearlong initiative, giving $1,000 a month to 85 families or individuals facing extreme financial hardships.
These monthly funds are unrestricted, without a designated use affiliated with them.
The program — similar to more than 50 other cities around the country — is meant to help the most vulnerable in the community, such as families on the brink of eviction and people who have recently found themselves on the street.
Possible criteria for eligible guaranteed income pilot participants could include:
- Households with an eviction filing against them
- Those with a history of missing utility bill payments
- People experiencing homeless who’ve already been identified for supportive housing
Austin City Council included the $1.18 million in funding for the initiative in last summer’s budget.
Election Day Emergency: Approved
In order to add Travis County Election Day workers and Williamson County ballot board members, council moved to replace old ordinances ahead of Saturday’s election.
These individuals will be serving on election day itself and in the case of ballot board members, also after election day.
Due to ongoing issues with recruiting workers, Travis and Williamson Counties only recently supplied the City of Austin with an updated list of names.
For this reason, council declared an ‘emergency’ to have these people appointed prior to their service.
Declaring an emergency allows the ordinance to take immediate effect — rather than the typical 10 days — to ensure these workers are approved prior to election day.
The May 7 election will determine everything from property tax cuts to whether Austin Police will officially rid of “no-knock” warrants.
Austin Transportation Partnership Board expansion
Project Connect — the city’s high-capacity transit system expansion — is speeding ahead with full force.
Trying to ensure its long term success, city council has put forth a proposal to expand the Austin Transportation Partnership board.
Some council members believe a larger board would provide additional support for the project’s ongoing implementation.
Project Connect plans to construct light rail lines, a downtown subway, an expanded bus system and an all-electric fleet in Austin.