City Council will discuss anti-discrimination, transportation

Austin City Council
Austin City Council (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Here’s a look at some items of note on Thursday’s Austin City Council agenda. 

Anti-discrimination

Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to review the city’s anti-discrimination policies to make a recommendation to amend the rules to include a process for appeals regarding allegations of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

The resolution points to a notorious women in government training session in March 2015, where “speakers at a staff training session made broad, demeaning generalizations and relied on stereotypes when discussing female leaders.” The session was organized after seven women were elected to the new council.

The resolution says though several who attended the session were against the content, staff spoke anonymously to the media rather than a supervisor or city management. During the session, one speaker suggested women leaders ask too many questions, aren’t interested in financial arguments and need to be spoken to differently.

City leaders claim they didn’t know about what was said until it went viral months later. The Assistant City Manger who organized the session officially stepped down in August.

The 2015 session came after council members voiced concerns about whether the city could better propose a culture of openness when it comes to gender equality. “Training session has prompted citywide and community-wide discussions about gender equity in the workplace and, more specifically, about the workplace culture at the city of Austin.”

The resolution to be discussed today directs the city manager to review the city’s anti-discrimination policies and protocols and bring back recommended changes by May 1 and requests the Human Resources Director to include a process for appeals in the Municipal Civil Service Rules pertaining to allegations of discrimination, harassment and retaliation beyond the departmental grievance process.

Performance reviews

Approve a resolution establishing a process for performance reviews of the City Manager, City Clerk, City Auditor, and Clerk of the Municipal Court Clerk.

This resolution amends the process and form that was approved for council appointees back in September 2013. The proposed form would highlight six key areas, and be used as a guide during evaluation sessions. The areas include:

  • Priority Outcomes – self-report of accomplishments
  • Key Performance Areas and Competencies
  • Audits/Reports
  • Development/Growth – Strengths and opportunities for growth.
  • Performance Conclusion – Is the appointee sufficiently meeting the council’s performance expectations?
  • Anticipated Future Performance Issues and Key Performance Areas – Goals and objectives to be met in the upcoming year. The proposed process would standardize the time frame for all council appointee evaluations and provide for the Human Resources director to provide information on the evaluation process to each appointee annually.

Transportation research

Authorize negotiation of an interlocal agreement with the University of Texas Center for Transportation Research, in the amount not to exceed $2,500,000 for five years for transportation research and analysis support.
(Notes: Transportation Department)

“This analysis will support various transportation goals and programs in the implementation of the City’s goals to increase mobility, manage congestion, create innovative solutions, increase neighborhood connections and improve transportation planning,” said the Transportation Department.

The analysis is expected to include the following:

  • Develop performance metrics for the city’s Transportation Management Center
  • Evaluate effectiveness of adaptive signal timing program
  • Develop a transportation data warehouse to facilitate data sharing, transparency and analysis
  • Review peer city practices to identify opportunities to improve the delivery of ATD’s services to the public
  • Analyze travel data to identify trends and support decision making
  • Prepare white papers and perform policy research

Restore Rundberg

Approve amendment to the interlocal agreement with the University of Texas for the U.S. Department of Justice grant-funded program, Restore Rundberg, to add approximately 10 months to the term.

The City received a one-year grant period extension with a new end date of September 30, 2016.

Vision for MetroRail

Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to develop a plan that identifies a vision for the streets, parks and plazas around the MetroRail Downtown Station.

The resolution states because the MetroRail Red Line has been so successful, CapMetro has received $50 million in TxDOT grant funding to expand the MetroRail system, and $22 million is proposed to be used to complete the downtown station and address passenger capacity.

“Capital Metro’s proposed plan to further enhance pedestrian, bicycle and rail transportation envisions a transit plaza eliminating auto traffic on the section of West Fourth Street between Red River Street and Trinity Street and making Neches Street into a cul-de-sac servicing the Hilton Hotel and park visitors.”

The resolution directs the city manager to work with Capital Metro and the Downtown Austin Alliance and Capital Metro to get feedback on the project from relevant city departments and provide necessary traffic studies and analyses.

Reduction in Austin Water funds

Approve a resolution directing the city manager to prepare a report of possible reductions to Austin Water’s General Fund transfer.
(Notes: Committee)

Last week, the Public Utilities Committee sent this resolution to council with a recommendation for approval on a 4-0 vote. Council Member Ellen Troxclair’s resolution calls on the city manager to put together options to keep more money within Austin Water, rather than send millions in utility revenue to the general fund.

Troxclair said Austin Water will transfer a total of $42,804,534 of utility revenue to the General Fund and Economic Development Department. The resolution indicates those transfers are 95-percent higher than the national average for municipally owned utilities, and cost the average customer $192 a year.

Standards for Youth Programs

Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance adopting the local standards of care for the Parks and Recreation Department’s youth recreation programs.

The state administers regulations and general licensing procedures for all child-care facilities, but an exemption from licensing is available to operate youth recreation programs if the City annually adopts standards of care.

The ordinance must include minimum staffing ratios; minimum staff qualifications; minimum facility, health and safety standards; and mechanisms for monitoring and enforcing the adopted local standards.

Onion Creek multi-use trail

Authorize negotiation of an interlocal cooperation with Travis County to design, construct, and manage a multi-use trail, a portion of which will cross the Onion Creek Wildlife Preserve.

In 2005, the Travis County Transportation and Natural Resources Division began work on a regional recreation/trail plan along the Onion Creek corridor. The Parks and Recreation Department can finalize the agreement to provide recreational opportunities with Council approval, which will allow Travis County to move into design and permitting for final construction drawings and installation.

Approve an ordinance amending chapter 2-5 of the city code relating to council committees and procedures for council meetings.

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