Austin City Council’s committee structure was officially pared down on Thursday after council approved a code amendment that was more than a month in the making.
The lighter committee system now only includes the Audit and Finance, Mobility, Austin Energy Utility Oversight, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Planning committees. Public Utilities, Public Safety, the Open Space, Environment and Sustainability and the Economic Development committee failed to make the cut.
Although there was some discussion, the committees will remain only as advisory groups and will not have decision-making power.
The conversation to rethink the council’s committee structure began at the end of 2016, after District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool voiced concern that the work of the committees was often rendered redundant by work done at the boards and commissions level. Other council members joined in support of a committee overhaul.
The topic was a focus of the council’s strategic planning workshop in January. Thursday’s trimming of committees will work as a stopgap measure while the council awaits feedback from the strategic planning consultants about best practices. The feedback is due sometime in March, at which point the council will begin making decisions about its broader structure, setting the mold for future 10-1 councils.