Travis County officials outline timeline adjustments for 2020 census, project snags with planned redistricting efforts

A photo of a virtual meeting of the Travis County Commissioners Court
With census response period extended through October, states could see a significant delay in redistricting data, county officials said at an April 21 meeting of the Travis County Commissioners Court. (Courtesy Travis County)

With census response period extended through October, states could see a significant delay in redistricting data, county officials said at an April 21 meeting of the Travis County Commissioners Court. (Courtesy Travis County)

The timeline for 2020 census efforts in Travis County has been pushed back by 120 days due to coronavirus concerns, county officials say, per the recommendations of the U.S. Census Bureau. Per the new timeline, in-person outreach efforts will be postponed to at least June 1, and the online response period for the census will be extended through Oct. 31. The adjusted deadlines still await confirmation by Congress.

Julie Wheeler, Travis County Intergovernmental Relations officer, told the Travis County Commissioners Court at an April 21 meeting that changes will likely have an effect on planned redistricting considerations in the next Texas legislative session, to begin in January 2021.

“We were supposed to kick off the legislative session with redistricting being the No. 1 priority, along with the budget,” Wheeler said. “What [the delay] means is they would not potentially receive data until after the legislative session is over. Statutorily, they’re still supposed to respond to the data the first legislative session after they receive the data, so it’s still sort of up in the air.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s new timeline, redistricting data may not be available to states until July 31, 2021. As a result, any redistricting as a result of new population data might be postponed to the following legislative session, which is slated for 2023. As Wheeler pointed out, this would impact not only districting at the state level, but subsequently at the county level, which makes districting decisions once in possession of updated state maps.

“Right now, we don’t have a definitive pathway for what would happen, but we do know this would cause significant delays,” Wheeler said. “It’s going to be an interesting domino effect to see what happens.”


Meanwhile, Travis County census efforts continue as local officials recalibrate outreach avenues for low-response areas of the county, such as the University of Texas West Campus, North Lamar-Rundberg, and far western Travis County, including Lago Vista—a surprising lag, according to Travis County Census Coordinator John Lawler.

“That may be something we’ll need to figure out a creative solution for,” he said.

Lawler said the county outreach groups for various demographics are pursuing a layered approach to accessing hard-to-reach populations, including digital outreach, phone calls, postcards and flyer distribution at community hubs still in use, such as food pantries. This approach has seen strong results with Latino population in Southeast Austin in particular, Lawler said.
By Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. A graduate of Presbyterian College in upstate South Carolina, Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio before joining Community Impact in Austin.


MOST RECENT

About one in 10 Austin ISD students failed a class this fall as the district adjusted to virtual learning. (Community Impact staff)
Failure rates, education gaps increase as nearly 80% of Austin ISD students continue to learn from home

About one in 10 Austin ISD students failed a class this fall as the district adjusted to virtual learning.

RiverPark is a 109-acre project that is set to be phased in over the next 10-20 years along East Riverside Drive in Austin. (Rendering courtesy Sasaki)
Hundreds of acres, billions of dollars: Three major developments to follow in Austin

The EastVillage, River Park and Brodie Oaks projects will see the investment of billions of dollars into condos, apartments, office space, retail space, restaurants and more.

District 1 Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison, left, and District 10 Council Member Alison Alter will serve successive one-year terms as mayor pro tem. (Courtesy city of Austin/Alison Alter)
East Austin’s Natasha Harper-Madison, West Austin's Alison Alter will each serve one year as mayor pro tem

In a move Austin Mayor Steve Adler called "probably unprecedented," City Council has chosen two mayors pro tem.

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has named a new executive director. (Courtesy Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority)
James Bass named executive director of Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority

Bass, the former executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation, replaces Mike Heiligenstein, who stepped aside Jan. 24.

A nearly five-year project to improve I-35 in the area of William Cannon Drive and Stassney Lane is set to finish in mid-2021. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
I-35 news to follow in '21: Work finishing in South Austin, input to be gathered for managed lane projects

While one project in South Austin approaches its final months, the Texas Department of Transportation is gathering input for projects to add nontolled lanes to I-35 over the next several years.

The Texas Legislature is responsible for drawing lines for new state and federal districts. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Redistricting process affecting every level of government gets underway in 2021

The state's process is largely a political one, while the city's process is left to an independent commission.

Photo of the Travis County sign
Travis County votes to accept application for Silicon Silver development incentives agreement

The company behind the project will be named once it submits an application and pays a $150,000 fee—the same as Tesla paid to apply for its hefty 2020 agreement.

Previous headliners included Cody Johnson, Turnpike Troubadours, Aaron Watson and Mark Chestnutt, among others. (Courtesy KOKEFest)
KOKEFest releases dates in Hutto; Marisol's Mexican Grill taking orders in Georgetown and more area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Alder could open its first units in Southwest Austin this fall. (Rendering courtesy Brandon Miller Group)
New Austin townhome community breaks ground in Oak Hill

Alder could open its first units in Southwest Austin this fall.

See how Southwest Austin's real estate market performed in 2020 compared to 2019. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Those who sold their homes in Southwest Austin in December made $91,000 more per sale than in 2019

See how Southwest Austin's real estate market performed in 2020 compared to 2019.

The school at the end of Sawyer Ranch Road is currently under construction. (Courtesy Dripping Springs ISD)
Dripping Springs ISD's newest school to be called Cypress Springs Elementary, helmed by Principal Kellie Raymond

Cypress Springs Elementary School is named for a group of springs near the district.

Austin ISD reported its highest number of COVID-19 cases the week of Jan. 4, but that number has decreased for two consecutive weeks, according to the district. (Courtesy Austin ISD)
Austin ISD sees 70% drop in on-campus students over past 2 weeks after district asks families to stay home

The district saw a 11,839-student decline in on-campus learning as AISD families opted for online learning from Jan. 12-22.