Procedural change sparks disagreement at Court of Commissioners

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 by Seth Smalley

Travis County Commissioners last week approved a revision to the Court of Commissioners agenda-setting process. From now on, any item on the agenda that will have a budgetary impact must first go through the Planning and Budget Office for analysis before a vote.

While Commissioners Brigid Shea, Margaret Gómez and Jeffrey Travillion voted in favor of the resolution, County Judge Andy Brown and Commissioner Ann Howard abstained, at times expressing hesitation about the downstream implications of the language of the resolution. provision.

“I, too, want to know what things cost before I vote on them,” Howard said. “But what I want to make sure is that we don’t limit the discussion. I can’t support something that says before I can request an agenda item – which is really my only way to get the five of us to discuss something – that it has to be approved first , or understood, by the budget office.

Howard added that she would like additional information to help her understand the review. “I don’t want to be unable to do this kind of political work.”

“What it does, I believe, is tell county staff that if they want to put in a proposal, it has to have a tax note on it,” Brown said.

As it was written, any agenda item involving a budget revision should already include documentation reflecting “the review and comments of the Office of Planning and Budget.” The new addition added language, “or is expected to have a budget impact after the budget review.”

“It’s just in light of the fact that it would take time for us to provide you with that budget impact or based on that projection,” County Executive Jessica Rio told commissioners.

“One of the reasons why I think it’s important to have this exam is that there are no surprises later,” Gómez said. “We thought it would cost so much, but in reality it costs this a lot and we haven’t taken the time to go over the details.

Shea said the court’s recent adoption of a paid parental leave policy – ​​the financial implications of which have yet to be fully addressed by the PBO – has boosted this item on the agenda.

“At the time, we adopted the paid parental leave policy, where we had to add some sort of caveat that we can come back in 30 days if there are any issues or problems with that,” said Shea said. “It was for me really the context, not to hinder, delay or prevent good policies.”

Gómez made the motion and it was seconded by Shea. The motion is adopted with three votes out of a total of five possible votes.

Editor’s Note: Andy Brown is a member of the board of directors of the Capital of Texas Media Foundation, the nonprofit parent association of the austin monitor.

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