Austin City Council tackling 117-item agenda


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and photojournalist ERIN COKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

Posted on May 23, 2013 at 6:11 PM

Updated Thursday, May 23 at 6:21 PM

AUSTIN -- The Austin City Council took on an 117 item agenda Thursday, deciding on an array of issues from Austin Energy to new construction.

Many of the big issues were pulled from the consent agenda early in the morning, partly because so many people signed up to talk and because the council members wanted to have discussions about many items.

One of the big talkers was Austin Energy. For more than a year the council has discussed creating a board to run the city's electric provider. Thursday, the people of Austin got an answer.

"I'll entertain a motion to postpone item number 29 indefinitely," said Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell during the meeting. 

That motion passed 7-0, leaving the plan to create a board of trustees to govern Austin Energy dead. However, the discussion isn't over yet. Thursday night at 7 p.m., the city council will vote on whether to create a city council committee on Austin Energy.

"It's more informal setting where the council, I mean the committee, will actually have the chance to have this discussion," Leffingwell said.

"We're just going to transfer this long drawn out discussion to the committee," said Council Member Laura Morrison. "But just to be clear, I think it's a critical issue and the whole council needs to be a part of it."

Another big item pulled from the agenda because of the number of speakers was construction of a bridge across North Walnut Creek connecting the Heritage Hills and Windsor Hills neighborhoods. Opponents say hundreds of Hart Elementary School Students would have to walk to school, rather than be bused. After a long discussion, the council approved the resolution.

Not every item took as much discussion. The council voted unanimously to sign a $750,000 contract expanding Austin Police Department's HALO camera program. Two additional cameras will be added in the Rundberg area and eight new cameras will be installed downtown.

"Those HALO cameras are making an absolute difference. We have captured felons, we have captured one person who actually killed somebody within minutes, we've captured bank robbers," said APD Chief Art Acevedo. "It is the eyes in the sky for the police department."

Construction on a new library voters approved back in 2006 can finally begin. Council passed a resolution to build it next to the Seaholm Power Plant on Cesar Chavez. The ground breaking is May 30th.

Another item that passed with no question, saying 'thank you' to Austin by hosting Barton Springs Fest. On August 10, 2013, everyone can enjoy a half day of swimming at Barton Springs Pool and the city will pick up the tab.

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