The Austin City Council and mayor meet at Austin City Hall. The Austin City Council and mayor meet at Austin City Hall.[/caption]


Big decisions made in 2016

Passing the $720 million mobility bond
It was the biggest bond package ever passed by city of Austin voters, and according to Adler, a 60 percent “yes” vote from the citizenry was “an important statement for the community to make. It shows us taking concrete steps to deal with challenges we have in a meaningful way.”

Austin Energy rate case settlement
Although the deal to cut the base electric rate saw Austin Energy decrease its revenue by $42.5 million, nearly all utility customers, from residents to large businesses, will save on energy costs.

Increased homestead, senior and disabled tax exemptions
As a way to incentivize homeownership in Austin, City Council increased the homestead tax exemption from 6 percent to 8 percent and increased the tax exemptions for the senior and disabled communities.

Top issues for 2017

Hiring a city manager
Adler said the search for the city’s new chief executive officer will be among the top priorities of 2017. The selection of a search firm is expected at the Jan. 26 council meeting, marking the first major step in hiring a permanent city manager.

Achieving greater affordability
In 2017 the city will focus on reaching greater levels of affordability through such initiatives as developing CodeNEXT, the city’s land development code rewrite; implementing the expedited permitting program; approving a final Housing Master Plan; driving mixed-income development; revising the city’s economic incentive policy; and implementing the Music and Creative Ecosystem Omnibus Resolution.

Execution of the mobility bond
The city will begin hiring engineers and consultants to draw up the blueprints of the mobility projects.

A question for Steve Adler, mayor

Other than turnover, what will be the biggest substantial change within City Council?
My hope is that we’ll focus on big things because the times call for us to focus on the major challenges we have, like affordability, like really preserving Austin’s spirit and soul while we grow and expand dramatically. Last year, to a degree, we were acclimating to a new 10-1 system and figuring out how to drive this new car that the citizens purchased for themselves. I think with nine of 11 council members coming back, we have a group that is hitting the ground running.

The Travis County Commissioners Court, from left: (back row) Gerald Daugherty, Judge Sarah Eckhardt, Jeffrey Travillion; (front row) Margaret Gómez, Brigid Shea. The Travis County Commissioners Court, from left: (back row) Gerald Daugherty, Judge Sarah Eckhardt, Jeffrey Travillion; (front row) Margaret Gómez, Brigid Shea.[/caption]


Big decisions made in 2016

Mitigation plan
With deadly floods in 2015 and again in 2016, the court engaged experts to further study the flood plain, refine the Land Water and Transportation Plan, and advise on the best ways to prevent future disasters.

Advisory committee
After narrowly losing a bond referendum in 2015, the Commissioners Court established a citizens advisory committee to advise on the pressing need for additional courts today and into the future.

Bus service
The court expanded bus service into Eastern Travis County near Decker Lane. Bus connectivity between Williamson and Travis counties will be enhanced with rapid bus service on MoPac managed lanes in 2017.

Top issues for 2017

Possible bond
The court will move forward with a bond referendum for additional projects in November.

Flood mitigation
The court will seek additional sources to fund buyout of homes and building of infrastructure to move the community out of the path of future floods.

The court continues to pursue partnership with the federal government to reuse the historic Federal Courthouse at West Eighth and Lavaca streets for additional probate court needs.

New leaders: The court is onboarding new talent, including District Attorney Margaret Moore, Sheriff Sally Hernandez and Precinct 1 Commissioner Jeffrey Travillion.

A question for  Sarah Eckhardt, judge

What are some of the most important achievements the court accomplished in 2016?
The big goals for 2016 were in community resiliency to natural disaster, courts capacity, transportation and affordability. The court has made real progress in all of these areas in 2016.

The Sunset Valley City Council, from left: Mickie Powers, Marc Bruner, Mayor Rose Cardona, Walter Jenkins, Rudi Rosengarten, Ketan Kharod The Sunset Valley City Council, from left: Mickie Powers, Marc Bruner, Mayor Rose Cardona, Walter Jenkins, Rudi Rosengarten, Ketan Kharod[/caption]


Big decisions made in 2016

Permanent city facilities
City Council focused on the development of permanent facilities for Sunset Valley police and public works staff, whose offices are currently in portable buildings. In 2016 the city selected a site adjacent to the existing City Hall building, selected its schematic design, hired a construction manager at risk and reviewed initial budgeting details.

Curbside composting
In July the city rolled out curbside composting for residents, who can have compostable items picked up every two weeks.

Municipal elections
The city held elections in November. Mayor Rose Cardona and council members Mickie Powers and Walter Jenkins were re-elected. Attorney Ketan Kharod was elected to a one-year term following Council Member Jeff Burdett’s resignation in July. Voters also approved a new eighth-of-a-percent sales tax increase that will help fund the city facilities project.

Top issues for 2017

Public Works and Police Facility
The city plans to start construction of the new Public Works and Police Facility. The project cost will be finalized in June, construction is slated to begin in July. Work is expected to last about 14 months. 

Uplands tract
The city will begin the conceptual and community workshop process to vet options for the Uplands tract following approval of a scope of work and contract Dec. 20.   

Water planning
Council will tackle water planning by exploring alternative technologies, considering sources and examining potential graywater uses.

City Council will complete a detailed public review of the budget, department growth and salaries with goal of developing potential recommendations for the mayor and budget committee in advance of the next fiscal year.

A question for Rose Cardona, mayor

What is the biggest challenge facing Sunset Valley in 2017?
Our entire community looks forward to completing the much-needed permanent facility for our public works and police departments that will benefit staff, residents, and those who do business with and in our city.