AUSTIN (KXAN) — Here’s what we’re watching at the Austin City Council meeting Thursday.
Austin Water audit: Approved
Council members voted to organize an external audit of Austin Water. The resolution states, “Austin Water has experienced five significant negative water quality events and water supply service interruptions in fewer than five years,” one of those being a three-day citywide boil water notice that took place earlier this month.
After the boil notice, several council members called for an external audit of the water utility.
The resolution would direct the city manager to organize an external review of the five negative water events “to identify what went wrong and how to prevent future failure, and to evaluate technology, operations and related issues that could improve the overall resilience and functioning of our water system.”
Renaming street currently honoring Confederacy: Approved
Council decided to begin the process to rename Confederate Avenue to Maggie Mayes. This comes after council approved a resolution in October 2017 to condemn monuments/memorials dedicated to the Confederacy, according to council documents. That resolution also directed the city manager to find ways to rename or remove said monuments/memorials located on city-owned property. This included renaming streets and buildings.
Council paperwork stated because the street lies between two schools, the community wanted to honor education advocate Maggie Mayes, who founded the first school in Clarksville in her home along with her husband, Elias Mayes, a prominent Black state legislator.
Approving settlements in protest lawsuits: Approved
Austin City Council approved settlements for two people reportedly injured by Austin police officers during Black Lives Matter protests in May of 2020. Those settlements together will cost the city $10 million.
The two items on Thursday’s council agenda (57, 58) dealt with approving settlements in two civil lawsuits claiming unnecessary use of force by Austin Police officers.
One of the lawsuits is from Anthony Evans, who said he was shot in the head with a beanbag round while unarmed and while he was trying to leave the protest on May 31. Injuries from the round required him to have surgery to repair his broken jaw.
Information on the other lawsuit can be found here. Both of those lawsuits, as a product of the settlement, will be dropped.
“These settlements remind us of a real difficult and painful moment in our city,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said. “It’s important that we address these two injuries and it’s also important that we make policy changes going forward as a result of these incidents.”
Filling vacancies among first responders: Approved
Austin City Council voted to direct the city to develop a staffing plan to fill vacancies at Austin-Travis County EMS and the Austin Fire and Police Departments. The resolution states the departments have been overwhelmed by the pandemic, and the plan will help pinpoint current staffing levels/vacancies and the challenges the agencies face with retention and recruitment.
“Nothing this city does is more important than keeping its residents safe,” a member of the Austin Crime Commission said during the meeting. “Rapid growth strains public safety.”
An update on the staffing plan should be provided to the council no later than April 30.
Incentives for landlords to help homelessness response: Approved
Austin City Council agreed to a 12-month deal with the Ending Community Homelessness
Coalition (ECHO) so it can give landlords incentives. Under the up to $500,000 contract, the incentives will help encourage property owners, managers and developers to allocate available units for families and individuals exiting homelessness in Austin.
“These funds will allow the ECHO team to work with the private rental market to help gain access for the Homelessness Response System,” council documents state. The contract would go through the end of this year.
“The folks that are looking for these homes are primarily not our folks that have our greatest immediate need for assistance,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said. “This in many instances is rapid rehousing.”
License agreement with Austin Pets Alive!: Approved
Council voted to renew for another 12 months a license agreement between the city and Austin Pets Alive! for the use of the Town Lake Animal Center. The center is located off West Cesar Chavez, and the agreement will allow APA! to continue using it as an animal service center to serve the public and help the city keep its no-kill status.
Council documents said APA! has been operating out of the center since 2011.