Non-discrimination policies, fire response times on city council agenda

Austin City Hall (KXAN Photo)
Austin City Hall (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Back from a South by Southwest city takeover and Spring Break, Austin City Council meets Thursday to tackle an agenda dominated by zoning cases. That said, here’s a quick look at some of the items that stand out:

Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance

The Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance would delay a criminal background check until the point a person is a finalist for a job. The goal is for those with a criminal history to have a better chance at landing a job they’re qualified for, before immediately getting pushed to the side. But opponents say the ordinance puts an unfair burden on businesses, increasing the time and cost employers put into the hiring process.

The Austin Chamber of Commerce says it’s are against the ordinance as it’s written and have requested a delay on a vote until May so employers and the public can provide feedback. Council Member Greg Casar says he’s taken the concerns into consideration and will present amendment Thursday, but after nearly a year of debate, public input, stakeholder meetings, committee meetings and several work sessions, he said there’s been more than enough consideration.

Non-Discrimination Employment Policies and Practices

A proposed resolution directs the city manager to review Austin’s non-discrimination employment policies and practices and come back to the council by May 1 with ways to strengthen employee protections. Within the resolution is a request for the city’s director of human resources to improve employee protections against discrimination in the workplace through amendments to the Municipal Civil Service rules.

You may recall a notorious 2015 city staff training session that made headlines for its “broad, demeaning generalizations,” as the resolution states, relying on stereotypes to discuss women in leadership. Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo’s resolution says the training session was a catalyst for a community-wide conversation on gender equity in the workplace and the environment for those working for the City of Austin.

Over a five-year period of time, city staff members filed 162 employment complaints against the city.

Fire Response Times

A proposed resolution directs the city manager to develop a plan to address fire response times. This includes looking at ways to fund additional fire stations and technology that controls traffic signals, speeding up response times. The 2016 Service Delivery Analysis found there is an immediate need for five fire stations in areas with “significant development, increased population and response times which are substantially below AFD’s goal of eight minutes.”

Those areas are the Travis County, Loop 360, Goodnight Ranch, Moore’s Crossing and Canyon Creek areas.

The resolution says utilizing GPS technology to control lights for public safety vehicles could lead to faster response times, determining potential costs and benefits is important.

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