Travis County pledges dedication to addressing climate change and two more takeaways from Tuesday’s commissioners court meeting

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Commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday joining 2,300 other local governments actively pursing efforts to address climate change and to reduce the harm causing impact at a global level. Here are three takeaways from the Nov. 7 commissioners court meeting:

• A resolution unanimously approved by commissioners Tuesday resulted in Travis County joining the We Are Still In coalition, a nationwide effort by local governments to demonstrate their dedication to tackling climate change following President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement in June.

“Due to the absence of federal leadership and climate change threats still posing a serious risk to our communities, it is vital for Travis County to remain committed to doing everything it can to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement and reduce our carbon footprint,” County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and Commissioner Brigid Shea said in a statement. “By upholding the Paris Climate Agreement, Travis County will join the more than 2,500 government, business, and grassroots leaders from across the nation who understand the value and benefits of reducing emissions and transitioning to a clean-energy economy. More importantly, Travis County will be at the forefront to reap the benefits created by the resulting growing economy. To do anything less would be shortsighted.”

• Commissioners revisited their discussion about adjusting compensation for a number of county jobs Tuesday. Based on a benchmark analysis, in an Oct. 31 meeting, commissioners postponed the vote to raise pay grades until further information could be provided. Today, commissioners voted to increase the base pay for employees in pay grade 14, or employees making roughly $39,000 a year. Employees who make above pay grade 14 or have maxed out on the pay scale as established by the county will get a lump-sum payment of an approved amount spread throughout the year. The cost incurred by the county to raise the pay grades is about $27,000 during this fiscal year.

“For me [this option]really helps those folks at the bottom, in terms of affordability, or unaffordability,” Commissioner Margaret Gomez said.

• Commissioners postponed today’s vote to approve a benchmark analysis study on pay-grade adjustments until further information could be presented. The study was conducted and presented to commissioners in an Oct. 31 meeting and recommended an adjustment for about 30 county jobs at a cost of around $1.8 million this year; however, it did not include an evaluation of chief-of-staff positions. Commissioners chose to delay the vote until all positions are evaluated.

“I feel like benchmarks should be taken in batches rather than cherry-picking out specific positions because it does get very personal,” Commissioner Brigid Shea said. “This benchmarking analysis should be applied in the same manner irrespective of what the position is.”

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Luz Moreno-Lozano

Luz Moreno-Lozano is the Southwest Austin and Travis County reporter. Luz began working with Community Impact Newspaper in April 2017 after serving as the news editor for Cornerstone Publications in Castroville for three years. She graduated from Texas A&M University in 2013.

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