Travis County
Texas

Agenda Item
21180
Added to Consent
Feb 5, 2019 9:00 AM

Consider and take appropriate action on budget amendments, transfers, and discussion items. (Commissioner Gómez)

Information

Department:CC Agenda requestSponsors:
Category:General Government

Meeting History

Feb 5, 2019 9:00 AM Video Commissioners Court Voting Session
draft Draft
RESULT:ADDED TO CONSENT

Transcript

Feb 5, 2019 9:00 AMVideo (Windows Media) MP4 VideoCommissioners CourtVoting Session

 
9:54 AMHearing for agenda item number 2. 2 is receive comments regarding a request to authorize filing of an instrument to vacate a public utility easement located along the common lot lines of lots 38 and 39, lake austin village, a subdivision in precinct 2.
Move the public hearing be open.
Second.
All in favor? that passes unanimously. Good morning, ms. Bowlin.
Good morning, anna bowlin, travis county tnr. The purpose behind this request to vacate this public utility easement is so that the owner can build across the common lot lines and not encroach into an easement. I know of no objections. This meets our requirements and we recommend this item.
Is there anyone in the public who would like to give comment, ask questions or have information to bring on this public hearing?
Move the public hearing be closed.
Second.
All those in favor? the public hearing is now closed by unanimous vote.

9:55 AMNumber 21 recommended for consent. Next let's go to that consent motion. I recommend the following items to go on a consent motion. I anticipate these items to be noncontroversial and receive a unanimous vote, but sometimes my best guess is wrong so i'll look to my left and right and see if anything of the commissioners would like to lay out these items for deliberation. C1 through c3. 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, and 30.
9:56 AMMove approval of consent items.
Second.
All those in favor? that passes unanimously. Next let's go to agenda item number 6, consider and take appropriate action on legislative matters including a, update on legislative activities, b, unfunded mandate legislation including sjr10 and hjr30; c, adoption of a resolution in support of unfunded mandate reform; d, modifications to the priorities, policy positions and positions on other proposals sections of the travis county legislative agenda. Thank you so much.
Good morning, Judge Eckhardt and members of the commissioners court. Near and far.
9:57 AMThank you very much.
We're here to give a quick update to the court today about the status of the legislation. As you know, the session, we're really getting to the meat of the session today. Governor abbott will give his state of the state speech during which among other things we expect he will announce the emergency items that he is going to focus on during the session. And -- oh, let me get this up on to the -- I know i'm going to do this wrong. See, that's even worse.
It's up on the screen. does that help you?
Oh, that's fine. okay. If y'all can see it, it doesn't matter if I can see it. So, he's going to announce his emergency items. Probably the 800-pound gorilla in the room I want to briefly tell the court about is the revenue caps bill, which was filed last week. It was filed on Thursday of last week in a big press conference that the governor, the speaker, the lieutenant governor, and the respective chairs of the finance or the tax-writing committees of the house and senate were at. It's going to be sponsored in the house by representative dustin burros from lubbock, chair of ways and means, which has tax jurisdiction in the house, and by senator paul, property tax committee, a forum just to talk about this issue. He is from the houston area, of course. The key features of it -- the bill is 116 pages long, has a number of provisions regarding reform of the appraisal process, greater transparency. Many of these ideas are really good ideas, but the key provisions in it are the provisions relating to revenue caps. This bill, unlike bills in the past, would apply to all taxing units, including schools. It divides all those taxes units into two categories. One is what's called small taxing units. And those are units a where the annual property tax plus sales and use tax revenue is less than $15 million. And for those small taxing units, they would maintain the same rules we have now, 8% rollback rate. However, other taxing units, which would include travis county, central health, acc, and most of the large institutions here in our community, for them they would reduce the annual rollback rate to 2. 5%. So a significant drop in the rollback rate. There is a disaster exception built in. And the way the disaster exception works is if the taxing entity or some part of it is in a state or federally declared disaster area, then it is waived from the requirement, if the appraisal roll goes down as a result of that disaster. And that continues until such time as either the appraisal roll catches up to where it was the year the disaster occurred, or five years, whichever is less. Under the disaster roll, they can still do the current 8% tax roll. So it gives some freedom. Think about harris county, which is still catching up from the loss of tax base that it suffered in 2017 after hurricane harvey. This would be an example of a situation where you would try to use that.
10:00 AMJust a quick question.
Yes, sir.
I might not have the answer, but is there a ratio between the number of small taxing units and other taxing units? Who is the general other, and whowho's the general small?
10:01 AMIf I would have anticipated that question I would have had the list. I've got the list. There are probably -- i'm sorry to guess. We have a big spreadsheet. There's probably 100 or more taxing units just in travis county. There's probably 15 or 18 to which this would apply. Obviously most of the school districts -- a couple of esds, all the big -- the county, the healthcare district, the acc. Obviously the city -- the bigger city, city of austin, city of pflugerville. We can send that list around to you, commissioner. but as a percentage, it's a relatively small percentage. But it's all the big taxing entities. The call is now for a mandatory election in the taxing unit proposes to exceed the rollback rate, which again would be 2. 5% for the larger units, even 8% for the smaller units. That mandatory election must occur at the November general election, which means that according to the proposal, you must set your budget and tax rate -- particularly if you plan to exceed the 2. 5% cap -- by august 15th. Now, as you know, that significantly changes the timetable that the county has used in the past. So you're really talking about lopping six weeks off the time that the county has to manage its budget, to get accurate numbers from the appraisal district about what the roll is going to be, to work out what programs the court wants to move forward with or cut back on, and all that must be done by august 15th. So that's just a quick summary. Judge, it's my intent to come back to the court in a couple weeks and give a longer discussion of the bill and of the revenue caps and how they work, and what the impact on the county would be. In the meantime, what i'd like to talk about today is unfunded mandates. As members of the court know, and as the general public knows, counties are administrative units of the state. They must comply with state mandates in how they deliver services. It's very important to realize that counties derive most of their revenue from property taxes. So counties do not have -- with relatively few exceptions -- access to sales tax revenue. And in counties that do have access to sales tax revenue, that sales tax revenue must be be -- produce a dollar for dollar reduction in the property tax levy. And, of course, each county is different in size, in the history of the county, in the culture of the county. As our friends at the texas association of counties like to say, if you've seen one county, you've seen one county. So counties are very different bodies and don't react identically to different changes in policy that we get from the legislature. The county must deliver certain core services. I highlighted several of them. Along with a percentage of our general revenue budget for this ffiscal year. For instance we have the justice system, both the civil and criminal courts, the jp courts, all that's involved in running those. They take up about 21% of our county budget. Corrections and rehabilitations, which is the jail, both downtown and at del valle and all the staff and personnel, the food and healthcare we provide prisoners, 17. 15% of the budget. Then we have other public safety that we do. I think many of our citizens appreciate the fact that in addition to the jailers, who you think of in the context of downtown or del valle, we have law enforcement officers, and for many of our citizens, the person who's going to answer a call for 911 or something like that is going to be a travis county deputy sheriff. That's another 11. 55% of the budget. If you add those three numbers up, you're right at 50% of the budget. In addition we talk about things like our general government functions. We have to conduction elections on behalf of the state. We have to collect taxes on behalf of the state. We do vital statistics and public records on behalf of the state. We manage the flow of paper and documentation in our courts. So all of those add another 18%. So these are the core services the counties have to provide. And those core services are frequently overlaid with unfunded mandates, which is really what I want to talk about. Those are directions from the state about how to do one of our core services that don't have money attached to them. Here's an example of some of the big unfunded mandates that the county is dealing with this year. This is our budget numbers for fy19. For indigent criminal defense we're spending -- or budgeted $13. 5 million. Civil indigent defense, which is providing legal representation to children and parents, and others who are in the cps system and are talking about who's going to keep a child or whether a child's going to be taken away, that's another $10. 2 million. Blue warrants, which is people who are parolees in the state system -- this is the state criminal justice system, these are parolees who are out but under the supervision of the state -- if they make a technical violation of their parole conditions, they can be arrested and put in jail until the state decides whether to send them back to prison or whether to release them, or whether to impose new conditions on their probation. That now is costing us over a million dollars a year. The other thing that we do is we have state inmates. These are people who have been convicted in our courts. They're on their way to a tdcj facility. But we're waiting for tdcj to come pick them up. And that's costing us over a quarter of a million dollars a year. So there's a lot of these. Another example I want to point out to the court is we have some underfunded mandates. So for instance, our constables are required to serve and execute kps warrants, that is, for people who have skipped a court date or have otherwise violated a condition that a court has imposed on them. They are required by statute -- or the maximum that they can recover for executing that warrant is $50. But we did an analysis now a couple years ago that said that the cost of doing that was $88. So this is an example of something the state has asked us to do, isn't really giving us the full amount of money we need to do it, and as you can imagine, there are many of those scattered throughout what we're doing.
10:08 AMAnd I just want to punctuate that. It would be cheaper for the state to take those inmates. But consider -- because their daily rate is about $60 a day. Consider this, though. We provide air conditioning. That's not a joke. We provide air conditioning to those inmates. For those inmates, their stay with us is more humane, because our community sets a higher standard for how we treat human beings who are in our temporary custody.
10:09 AMAnd that, judge, is a good example of how 254 counties do things differently. And each county does, as you suggest, what is in response to the values and principles of the community they serve. And as a result, not one size rule, like a 2. 5% cap, is going to fit all. But I digress because i'm talking about unfunded mandates today. And there have be two bills filed to try to constitutional protection against unfunded mandates. One is hjr30 by representative wayne burns. And the other is sjr10 by our own senator buckingham, representing travis county up towards abilene and temple, that area. So we're very happy that she is a sponsor of this legislation. The basic idea of the constitutional amendment is that the legislature cannot impose a mandate on a local government without providing either state funding or some other stream of revenue for that local government in order to execute that mandate. Because it's a constitutional amendment, it must get 100 votes in the senate and 21 -- i'm sorry, 100 votes in the house and 21 votes in the senate in order to pass and then must go to the voters in a constitutional election, which would probably be held this november. Last session, representative burns filed a similar bill which did pass the house and go over to the senate. It ran out of time over there. So we're very excited about senator buckingham's leadership in trying to push this bill forward in the senate at the same time representative burns tries to move it in the house. So what we're asking the court to do is to adopt a resolution that is included in your backup that would encourage support by all legislators and esse -- certainly by our delegation for this unfunded mandate protection as included in these two constitutional amendments.
10:11 AMDo I have a motion?
Move approval. second.
We have a motion by Commissioner Gomez seconded by Commissioner Travillion. Deliberation on the motion? And media, could we bring Commissioner Shea back up on the screen if she's available? I believe that she is. Okay. Thank you.
Overhead --
Thank you so much. I don't have her on my screen. My apologies. Deliberation on the motion? All those in favor? That probably passes unanimously, yeah?
Yes, ma'am.
Okay. that passes unanimously.
Ladies and gentlemen, there3 are 112 days remaining in the session. Thank you very much.
Before you go though, with regard to the revenue caps --
Yes, ma'am.
We do have significant legislation in both the senate and the house that you're going to come back and give us more information on next week. But I do ask all individuals who are intereted in the levels of services that the county sets, we generally set the level of service above what the state mandates because our community has frankly a different standard. I mentioned air conditioning in the jail, for one. Another big standard that we set higher than the state is jail diversion programs and arrest diversion programs, which are so important. We'll be hearing about some of those programs later on today in the agenda. If you are committed to these kinds of programs and want to see them continue, please help us by reaching out to our legislators in the travis county delegation, but more importantly to legislators more broadly in texas about how important local control is in setting community standards for the services that government provides.
10:13 AMJudge, oftentimes people don't know who to contact or how to contact them. Is it appropriate for us to create some type of link to that they could send information in to us that we could compile and share through our team?
I would suggest -- and it's just a suggestion -- I believe that genuine grassroots will be more persuasive than us bundling the information, but I would suggest that we utilize our own social media outlets to provide sample emails and lists of people that we think would be most important to reach out to in the state senate and the state house.
So then it would be good to compile all of the legislators in this region and where they serve so that people know who to write to and who to call if necessary, so. I don't know whether it is sending them to texas online, or whether it is specifically putting a picture and a location and an email and a phone number saying, you know, this is who represents university hills. This is who represents whatever the case May be.
10:14 AMSorry, judge. that's a wonderful suggestion, commissioner. and the house -- excuse me. The senate property tax committee is meeting tomorrow to take up senate bill 2, the senate version of this bill. So what we could do is I could provide to the members of the court information about who the members of the that committee are, how to get ahold of them. Maybe if I can even their social media accounts. And if the members of the court can distribute that through social media or their email blasts or whatever, that would be very helpful just in the very, very short term. Presumably after the bill is heard in committee it will be reported out at some point and then get to the floor of the senate. There of course we have four members of the senate who are members of the travis county delegation -- senator watson, campbell, buckingham, and zafreni. We can at the appropriate time send that information out so the members of the court can distribute that. Then the bill moves over to the house and there will be hearings in the house ways and means committee. So if it's okay with y'all i'd like to provide you that information kind of at a time when it's most appropriate for you to broadcast it to your constituents, to people, to your friends, to social media.
10:15 AMWorks for me.
That would be super helpful. thank you for the suggestion.
Judge.
Yes, ma'am.
I do think it's important to say this. And I know it's very political. But this is a political process. And I think the public needs to understand, many of the leaders who are advocating these -- I think, really extremist proposals with regard to choking out cities so they can't access the revenue necessary for basic services are followers of grover norquist. And people can look him up. He is an antitax, antigovernment advocate. And his stated goal is to shrink government so that it's small enough to drown in the bathtub. I just think people need to understand this is not just -- I mean, they're couching it at tax relief but they're not addressing the largest area of taxation that's crushing most people, which is the school tax, the portion of our property taxes that goes to finance the public schools. And the state isn't paying anything close to its constitutionally required share of school funding. They're forcing more and more money from local communities. And the fact that they're exempting smaller jurisdictions tells me that this is an attack on the cities. And dan patrick has said publicly he doesn't like what the democratic process has produced in terms of the election of local officials in large cities. So I think people need to understand this is being couched as tax relief, but it's something much, much more sinister, and I think antidemocratic.
10:17 AMThank you so much for those comments, Commissioner Shea. Very well-taken. We'll keep working on this. Of course we have a political remedy if a local governmental entity is not effective, efficient, and fair with your tax dollars and is taxing you too much, it's called the ballot box. It's not called revenue caps. So vote, vote, vote. Thank you.
Thank you.
10:18 AMNext agenda item is agenda item number 23. 23 is to consider and take appropriate action related to a community survey regarding support for the great divide little barton creek bridge project from 2017 to 2022 bond program in travis county. Let me do a little stage management here. This is in precinct three. Commissioner Daugherty has been working on this issue for some time, as well as staff in the transportation and natural resources department. So what I would like to do is get a briefing from staff with regard to how we are, where we are today with regard to the bond project. Then I would like a briefing from Commissioner Daugherty with regard to his outreach to his constituents and the result of that outreach. Then i'd like to kick it back to staff, includin the planning and budget office staff, with regard to options that have been floated. And I would like to get those options on the table before I take comment so that I can attach your comment to the specific options. All right? So I know that we have a lot of people in the audience who May be wanting to speak on this. So, staff, why don't you tell us where we are and how we got here.
10:19 AMHi, cynthia mcdonald, county executive for transportation and natural resources. To my right is morgan, our public works director. To my left is david greer, the assistant public works director over our capital improvements program. Just a little bit of history, back in 1987 we did receive correspondence from a constituent asking us to take a look at the lower crossing at great divide. Apparently there had been some flooding issues then. I know staff had looked at it. We did an internal report. The department actually looked at a lot of different bridges and low-water crossings across the county. In our 1994 report, reported back great divide as an issue to be mitigated. We did recognize back then, again in 2007 we had some constituent complaints about the low-water crossing, the one way in and one way out. It had also made -- been reported in our 2009 report from the external engineering firm that did a study for us on drainage. Having all of those different studies and then also, various complaints over the years, we have put that project on the list of drainage projects for capital improvement. It is a low water crossing that has culverts that range from the three-inch to 18-inch size. And the number of residents have increased over the years from about 500 to -- i'm sorry. The average daily traffic counts have gone from about 500 to over a thousand. There are about just over 200 homes. And there is currently only one way in and one way out as a public roadway. And again, it made the list of projects. When we got to the bond program for 2017, the bond committee took a look at all of the drainage. One of the things they did note about drainage was that they were going to recommend an overall approach. But when it came down to a final list, they took staff's recommendation with regard to the most significant drainage low water crossing projects, and that included great divide. It was ranked number 5. What the ranking was based on was the frequency of road closures, the average daily traffic count, and the impact to emergency access, being one way in and one way out. It was basically ranked high because of the last two criteria. And again, as I mentioned, it ranked in the top five of the low water crossing projects. Do you have anything else?
10:22 AMCurrently, the engineering study for the drainage impacts have been completed. And the recommendation from staff is to, as directed by the court, is to follow the atlas 14 rainfall intensities, and, therefore, the consultant had put together a bridge crossing that would accommodate that atlas 14. And from an engineering perspective and a safety perspective, the staff recommends that we follow through with that if we're going to follow through with a project.
Cynthia, tell us, what happened out in the community regarding the committee that was put together? How many meetings with were there, where were they, in travis county?
10:23 AMWe had several public meetings. They started in -- I believe february, late February was when the bond committee got together for the first time. And we had meetings roughly every two weeks and then we went to weekly all the way through last -- end of july. There were two public meetings on the western side of travis county, one at the van digraph high school and then one at lakeway. There was one writte comment and one speaker at the lakeway public meeting. And both of them were against the project. When we compiled all of the written documents and all the input that we received over the entire timeframe of the bond committee, we had three in favor of the project that supported it and two opposed. The two opposed were the speaker and the written comment from the lakeway. The other three in favor were just written feedback that we got through emails. I believe that was it. In terms of any discussion with the bond committee, I took a look at some of the video that we talked about. One of the things the committee was concerned about -- they did acknowledge that there was some opposition from the public regarding this. And so they put the design funding for this great divide on the cos. And then they put the construction piece in the bond referendum.
10:24 AMTraditionally, I think we -- we being the county -- when we go out to do these things -- unless there is a very specific -- unless people really understand that you really need to come and talk about this deal, you know, it doesn't surprise me that during the process that we go through, to have community meetings, that you don't have a lot of people come. Now, one of the reasons is because it's hard to know the information, you know, that somebody -- that we're talking about a specific, you know, project. And then we are, you know, fairly limited in so far as how we communicate that to a community. I mean, you know, the one meeting that we had in lakeway where we had the most speakers was about the bee creek sports complex. And that was because what you had is you had the youth league organization out there make sure that they had, you know, a couple of hundred plus at that particular meeting. So when people have asked well, how did that thing get there and why did it get the attention or the lack of attention, why did that happen, I just want the community, you know, that's here to understand this is generally what happens. I mean, you have very few people that participate. You know, people are busy. And they don't really know, you know, how to come, how to speak up. And, you know, that drives a lot of what we do as the county. And that's -- you know. So there ave been people ask me all along, how did this thing get there, why didn't we know about it. And i'm sure that somebody May want to address that whenever they come to the microphone. But I did want people to understand that's how this thing took place and what happened, okay?
10:27 AMCommissioner, I do agree that getting the public to come out to these meetings can be challenging. One of the things that we did do in this bond process that was a little bit different is we actually have the leisure of being able to reach out through technology. We put it on our facebook. We went through next-door. We did a lot of social media outreach. Again, it is a hit or miss. You get who you get. But we did do that. The other thing that was a little bit different in this bond cycle that we haven't done previously is that the bond committee did not actually make an initial recommendation at their report. What they did was talk about the issues, what their priorities they had set. But they did not actually cull the list down at that point. They waited until after all of the public meetings to start culling the list down.
10:28 AMAnd I also -- I want to make another comment with regard to the process. The bond committee was a panel of citizens appointed by this memomemocommissioners court to do a deeper div into dive into a list of projects that totaled a billion dollars of need to figure out which projects really needed to get done within the next five to six years. What the citizen bond committee did as they loo ha looked at those projects was prioritize low water and drainage issues seeing very quickly that we have a deep need there. So to their credit, they created, along with staff, some objective criteria around numbers of ingress egress with regard to the flooded bridge, the number of days that it was closed, the number of people, households and businesses that were reliant on the piece of infrastructure. And they looked at this countywide. So I want to make sure that any belief that we were not transparent or didn't have methodology -- I just want to speak to that. The standard was a standard and assumed a countywide desire to fix these areas that had frequent flooding, no way in or out, and a higher threshold of businesses and residents reliant on it. But this is exactly what the process is supposed to be. If thisif -- there is a community tha has a different standard and comes forward and says actually, we don't want that, this is that process. It has hap happened before. We had this with the sidewalk in I think it was on el rey where our community-wide standard with regard to providing sidewalks when you achieved a certain level of population density and a certain number of traffic generators around the neighborhood, we go in and retrofit with sidewalks. This community came back and said no, we don't want that bond program. So yes, on occasion, we do find communities that don't have the same standard as we have set countywide. So that is this process.
10:30 AMJudge, are you interested at all in having any sort of mini presentation from miller gray that talks about what they had determined? Because they were the firm that did the engineering. Perhaps we don't need to do that. I've asked them to come and I know that they're here.
10:31 AMI want to be mindful of time. we have 38 people signed up to speak, 38.
Mmhmm.
So with regard to the design, I don't think it is a mystery to anybody that when we are designing to the 500-year flood plain for all of our projects across the county, the engineering company does a schematic based on what the bridge would look like, and that's what we have. Is that sufficient?
It probably is. I mean, what I really want people to understand -- I mean, it's not that i've been able to get in touch -- or in front of all of the community. We've done as good a job as I think we could do via email, text, and whatever. But here is the thing that I want people to understand, because there are responses, you know, and comments to me that, you know, this count would have been different. And we'll talk about the count, you know, here in a little bit. But that it was sort of set up to get a no, we don't want the bridge, because it was the 500-year flood bridge. And when we did the town hall meeting in y'all's community, we did show that there was anything from a two-year, ten-year, 25, 100 and a 500-year flood situation. When I put the thing out to everybody to vote on, I did put the 500-year flood because -- and y'all correct me if i'm wrong, staff -- it was the professional opinion of our engineers within our staff and the report that was done that if you are going to do a project, if you are going to spend taxpayer money, you need to spend whatever it takes to get people across the low water crossing the most times that you can. And that necessitated a 500-year flood bridge. And that was the reason that that was on the survey. It wasn't meant to set something up for pass, fail, or whatever. But I did know from our staff and from -- and y'all correct me if i'm wrong. I mean, we've got two engineers, you know, sitting here. And have I said anything that is incorrect? I mean, if we asked you today what is your professional opinion about what would need to be built if som if -- something were going to be built, what would it be?
10:34 AMThe 500-year storm, which is the atlas 14.
I want to bolster that. if there are any commenters here today who want to advocate that the county build this project below its own standard, I believe that that is a nonstarter. We have a 500-year flood plain standard throughout the county. So whether it is a low water crossing in del valle or a low water crossing in new sweden, or a low water crossing in wells branch, or a low water crossing in southeast or southwest, we are building to a 500-year flood plain. Same with our roadway projects. So I do want to stress that. If anyone here today is going to advocate that travis county build something below our standards, I don't believe that that advocacy will be effective.
Well, it May not pass. I mean, and what I told the community, the reason I went out with the survey is because as the precinct three commissioner, I wanted to try and respond to the overwhelming number of whatever that would be, whether that is build a bridge or not build a bridge. I have -- as some of you have known me for a while, I have known for probably 12 or 14 years how controversial this subject has been. And as a matter of fact, i've always thought that surprisingly to me, that the majority of the people in the homestead really didn't want you to do anything to the low water crossing. And i've got to say, the last, you know, year or so, I question myself as to do you think that people still feel that way? And that's the reason I said well, I don't know. So i've got to find out how people feel. [ chuckling ] and that's the reason that I told the court that I was going to insist on, you know, coming to the homestead and getting that word. I think that as we know, there was a -- beyond the number that I had requested, which is 75% participation. As a matter of fact, we had about 83, almost 84% participation out of 199 surveys that were sent out. So that certainly exceeded my request -- I would hike to have like t a super majority participate, that being 75%. We hit that benchmark. Then I said, I would like to know if we can get at least 75% of the people to tell me whether you want it or whether you don't want it and quite frankly, it didn't make any difference to me because I was asking you all. That number also came back pretty overwhelmingly large. And that is, you know, right at 78, 79% of the 83% that participated said no, we do not want -- provided what you'd hike liketo say is 79% said we don't want a 500-year flood bridge. That was the message that was sent. But I knew that if travis county were going to build this, that it was going to be the 500-year flood bridge and that's the reason I did it the way that I did it. I think that everybody understands that. But, you know, I want to make sure that, you know, my colleagues know exactly.
10:37 AMSo we have 38 folks signed up. If we limit it to two minutes each that takes us all the way to the lunch hour. So I just want to manage our time here. And we May need to come back and deliberate after the lunch hour, depending on how the public comments go, all right?
10:38 AMJudge, let me say this. I do not intend to make a motion today on this thing, because the one thing that we all know that has come into play now is that the city of bee cave, you know, has told us that they are interested in annexing the low water crossing, which will have, I think, a great effect on how we look at this thing. And I think that's going to take a little more time for bee cave to determine, you know, how they would go about it. The one question that I have asked of legal, and I have been told, and my question was, can we legally, we being travis county, allow bee cave to annex the low water crossing. And the answer to that from legal is yes, the commissioners court can and even more than that, are somewhat obligated to do it if you procedurally -- if bee cave procedurally does all the steps that obviously, I think if they're going to move forward on it, they will probably check all those boxes.
10:39 AMLet me ask the question in a different way to legal. Can counties prevent municipalmunicipalities from annexing?
I'm not aware of a process that allows that to help.
Counties provide the quilt backing for a generalized standard across the county. Municipalities th when they annex are able to set a higher standard or even in some cases a lower standard with regard to what their communities would prefer. That's the whole point of municipalities. We see it across the board in travis county. City of austin, for example, when they annex, generally sets a higher standard than the county can provide and that is embraced. Other municipalities sometimes set a lower standard than what the county provides. We've seen that in mustang ridge. And so that is par for the course in county governance. We tried to make the un-incorporated areas so nice that some municipality or other will annex it, because municipalities are able to do things that counties are not able to do. I stole that quote from my chief of staff, peter. Go peter. Also, before we go into this public comment, I do want to say that the mayor has reached out to us, did brief me on the emergency called session of city council where they did vote their desire to pursue annexation. I do believe that the 500-year flood plain is an important standard that this county will not deviate from. And I am not interested in spending countywide tax dollars on anything below that standard. But if bee cave should annex the bridge, it is up to the local control and the political will of bee cave with regard to the standards that they want to exert.
10:41 AMJudge, would you mind -- I mean, I do know that we have at least one -- I think -- elected official from bee cave, council person -- or do we have more than one? We have a couple. I mean, could we ask that we allow them to speak first? And then this is -- there is sort of a batting order that has been asked for me to try to arrange that.
Your constituents, i'm perfectly fine with that.
10:42 AMIf there are elected officials out of the bee cave area that would like to come -- we also have the city manager.
I will ask that whether you're an elected official or not that still you keep your comments to two minutes each. And if your comments are duplicative of someone who has spoken before, if I could just refer to their -- if you could just refer to their comments.
So why don't you just state your name and tell us your position.
Commissioner, i'm bill goodwin, a councilmember of the city of bee cave.
Good morning, marie, councilmember, city of bee cave.
Good morning, clint garza, city manager, city of bee cave.
Good morning, lindsay, director of planning and development, city of bee cave.
For everyone, our mics are very good. You don't have to lean in on them.
And just for, you know -- I think everybody in this room knows, but ms. Lohman and Mr. Goodwin not only are they on the city council, but they are also residents of the homestead, correct?
10:43 AMThat's correct.
Okay. just wanted to put that out there. Okay. Clint, if you wouldn't mind, why don't you give us a two-minute snapshot of what y'all did last week.
Sure. judge, commissioners, Judge Eckhardt summed it up perfectly. City council called a special session last week and asked that travis county delay any further action on the low water crossing until we have an opportunity to explore annexation of the crossing. A couple of things came out of that session. One was a desire -- the council authorized the mayor to continue working with travis county on a divide extension, a separate project altogether, but that was part of the motion. Staff was directed to look at emergency access as well as a barrier system, or a barricade system and early warning system for the crossing. We haven't talked internally at the staff level yet of what we would recommend. I think we would ask that if the crossing is annexed that travis county share any engineering that you have and we move forward and make the decision that we can. That's mostly it. I think that covers the motion. I'd be happy to answer any questions that you all have. Mayor parker couldn't be here today so i'm prepared to answer anything you'd like. We worked with the land owner adjacent that connects with private streets. We met with the developer the neighboring subdivision, spanish oaks, as well as the land owner. The meeting went well. The land owners that would be required to authorize an easement for emergency vehicle access only said they were comfortable with us coming to court today and letting you know the meeting went well and it looks promising. We need to work out the details. Commissioner Mentioned the city needed a little more time. It's been about a week and a day. We've made a lot of progress in a week, but we do need a little more time.
10:45 AMOkay. lindsay, do you have anything?
No.
She's here for technical support.
Marie?
I'll jump in. Commissioner Daugherty, first i'd like to thank you for reaching out to the homestead neighborhood with the survey to gauge sentiment. I was one of those comments that the citizens advisory board committee noted during the public hearing at lakeway activity center. And I echo your sentiments about trying to get the public to come out and be part of those. It certainly was a ballpark crowd that night. I actually am excited about the ballpark. That aside, what put this really on my radar was the overwhelming outreach of my neighbors personally to me letting me know their disappointment in this particular project and their desire to not have it move forward. I live in the very back of the neighborhood. I'll be completely frank, if a bridge is there or not personally it's not going to impact my property at all. However, there are some folks that live right at the low water crossing that it would have a significant impact. I am empathetic to the safety concerns, certainly. I am a mother of four children, one of whom is special needs. And certainly have a need to get in and out of the neighborhood all times of the day. I think I go through there 20 times so your traffic count might be higher due to my car going back and forth 20 times. That being said, when I look at funding and projects, and where those dollars should be allocated for the benefit of the most people, it was really quite simple. The overwhelming majority of my neighbors did not want to see a 500-year bridge be put in place there. And I as a councilmember saw several opportunities where those funds could be better directed. And that's where my thoughts fell in, was to allocate those where more people could be served with those funds. Thank you.
10:47 AMThank you.
Y'all hear that little jingle there, that's the time, just so you know.
I took ten seconds of bill.
You did a good job.
Commissioner Daugherty, I was not prepared to speak today. And I would presume that my comments would be echoed by public speakers to follow. I would like to add, to clint's comments, though, that the meeting that took place yesterday with the landowner that could provide an easement to emergency vehicles only to access the neighborhood in event of emergency was also attended by the fire department, the fire chief, and the assistant fire chief. And it was a good meeting. It was a very positive outcome. And the landowner, phil and jane mockford, have indicated that it is -- basically authorized me to say that they were pretty sure that we could work something out for that access.
10:48 AMJudge, what i've asked -- we're good with you all if you wouldn't mind vacating those seats, because we're fixing to fill them. [ laughing ]
And judge, what i've told people, i've said we will have three people on one, you know, opposition. Three people supportive of it. And then after they speak, then they all need to leave and we have people come back up and address the court. But the opposition to the bridge, they do have six people that they would hi like to go first. So three people come. And those would be jennifer walker, ed crock, morgan bender. So if you all would come and take -- let's say the three to my left. And then victoria james, y'all's side, depending on who wants to come up first, y'all take three seats, you know, to my right here.
10:49 AMThat is perfectly fine with me. I would like to stress that speaking in opposition to the 500-year flood plain bridge is essentially saying we want bee cave to incorporate it and to take on the cost of something less than, just to be clear.
Say that again, judge?
The opposition to the 500-year flood plain bridge is the equivalent of saying i'm in favor of bee cave annexing and putting bee cave tax dollars toward a smaller bridge.
10:50 AMOkay.
I'm open, but my read of my commissioners court is that travis county will not be participating in a bridge -- in the funding of a bridge that is below our standard.
And judge, if you would, why don't we have the 'don't bridge' group first, and then we'll have the three for the bridge.
Okay.
Good morning, Judge Eckhardt and commissioners. First, I want to thank you all for your service and thank you for the time that you've invested in listening to our different viewpoints on the great divide drainage issue. My name is jennifer walker, a 15-year resident of the homestead. I know this low water crossing has been under discussion for many years. So i'll refer to the previous detail timelines and skip those paragraphs and pick it up in December 2018, when we were left with our one option of this massive 500-year flood standard bridge. The costs are pegged at $6. 1 million I for an overpass, not included cost overruns. The bond authorized 4. 2 million. The other 2 million has to come from nonvoter approved funds or certificates of obligation. We want to thank Commissioner Daugherty for conducting a survey and just want to say that Thursday I helped count the votes for that survey. And we had around 80% of homestead households are not in favor of constructing this bridge. Only 29 households voted in favor. That's a small number. And on Monday last week, the city council voted to move forward with the annexation, bee cave city council, for the great divide low water crossing. This tiny stretch of county road sits in the middle of miles of city jurisdiction. The bee cave even has -- city even has convi jurisdiction of the road on both sides leading up to the crossing. The crossing is a local issue. Annexation lets the city of bee cave deal with the resolution locally. It's obvious and it's logical. You'll hear many comments from my neighbors, including why our little low water crossing should not be on this list. The actual safety issues that worry us every day, the unintended consequences of building this bridge, and more. I'll leave that to them. This morning we are asking the county commissioners to set aside the funding to not proceed with the construction and to cooperate with the city of bee cave council to complete the annexation. Thank you again for your time this morning and listening to us.
10:52 AMAnd I know most of you prepared three minutes because that's what I told you that we would have. But with 38, you know, people -- I mean. So if you can, you might have to alter that a little bit.
10:53 AMOkay. i'll try to talk real fast. Good morning, Judge Eckhardt and commissioners. I also want to thank you for your service and inviting us to come speak about this drainage project and the survey. My name is ed, a 13-year resident of the homestead in bee cave. The ranking methodology for determining the county drainage issues makes it on the list for the list of remediation skews the outcome for the crossing. 50% of the calculation rests on whether second emergency access exists. If this criteria is remedied, the crossing falls to number 42. In other words, it's not even on the first page of the county list. Plus the ranking calculation doesn't include a criteria for safety. Safety has been suggested as a primary concern here, but there has never been an injury in the 40 plus years the crossing has been in existence and fire and ems have never been called to the neighborhood during a closure. It's also been suggest that had first responders' lives are at risk. As a former volunteer firefighter, I can tell you the safety of one self-is the first responsibility. No firefighter will drive into a flooded low water crossing. Standard operating procedure is everyone goes home. There's even a national program with that safety initiative. So the premise of first responders' lives at risk is not necessarily true. If we were to put safety into the ranking we'd be much further down the list. Last week bee cave city council voted to seek emergency access easements, which we have heard about. And that process is under way. Voters were also presented with a broadly worded measure on the ballot. It's not hard to think you're a good citizen when you're voting for improvements for roadways, drainage, and sidewalks. But the average voter had no idea they were voting for a $6. 1 million bridge to service 185 homes in the communities. [ bell ringing ]
10:55 AMSo we're asking you basically to let the process play out and let bee cave annex it and handle the situation. Thank you for your time.
Thank you for yours.
My additional concern is that we did approve for the $4. 2 million improvement through the bond, but now it's up to 6 million. And so that's a 2 million increase in nonvoter funds before environmental impact study has been done, easements, or construction. So I do appreciate you explaining the standard necessary. And that really helped a lot, because I was having a hard time reconciling this county's expenditure for just a few hundred rooftops that's inconvenienced less than two times a year. We're a very unassuming neighborhood. We don't even have sidewalks or streetlights. So this was a little concerning. My hope is that the county would support the city of bee cave's annexation and that it would -- while I have you -- bring up some funds to deploy elsewhere affects tens of thousands of lives daily. Last year there were 66 accidents at the intersection of hamilton pool road and 71. And two of those were elementary school buses. And my daughters were on one of those buses. As a lot of the parents here today had children on those buses as well. And it wasn't because the drivers were being irresponsible, it's just very congested during most times, especially during the times of the buses. So you can see why we would rather prioritize funding to areas that could alleviate that congestion that we go through daily as opposed to the low water crossing. We have had no injuries, it's been incident-free for over 40 years, as they said. So I echo those sentiments but I also want to share that the school district did a survey because all of our population increased in growth to survey about the rezoning, and there were more than a thousand communities that also were targeting the congestion and the traffic. So I would hope that maybe deploying funds there would be -- for the vale divide extension would be in the interest of the county.
10:58 AMThank
The next three that want to come are martha norman, taylor guess and lance clausen. Then it will be just whoever wants to come up.
Victoria winburn and we were advocating for something smaller than 500 because of the emergency egress to cover the 500-year event. We'll put that aside out of respect for the court. We would love to have a bridge. If you do the annexation, we would love an interlocal agreement so we can take advantage of the 2019 c. O. And g. O. Standard. The city has committed to the e. R. Access. They've committed to bridges to close it down because there's been a lot of dangerous situation. For example, off the list serve just in the last five years, an optimum went through with only 5. 3 inches of clearance. A residence daughter slept at the crossing until midnight and the next morning her father let her go through a foot of water in a car with a 6. 5 ground clearance. On page 19 you'll see quite a few others. So one of the things that really start up a lot of folks -- stirred up a lot of folks was the visual of the 500-year bridge, but I don't know the city has understood exactly what the visual of a gated monitoring system will look like. It will look like a railroad gating system on both sides. And so we will have -- increased pedestrian traffic because of the 850 million in west village event, so pedestrians can go around a gate. There are lots of folks affected buoy this crossing, it's -- by this crossing, it's just not the neighborhood. My dad, 84 years old last week, he says I don't think folks understand how hard it is on emergency personnel to pull people out of -- deceased people out of waters. It's not just their lives, it's tough. You know, just because you have emergency egress, that does not make the crossing safe. And, you know, another picture -- okay, so i'm now done, but we would ask if there is any flexibility, not to kick the can down the road. If the city does not have a written plan with an urgent time line to get the crossing fixed. Thank you.
11:00 AMThank you.
Good afternoon, honorable eckhardt and commissioners. James cook, I live in the homestead. I am a 20-year army veteran and so the reason why I mention that to everybody is this strikes me deep to my core because a bond was passed by the voters and now we are deviating from that bond by possible talk of not going through with a promise that was made to the voters of travis county. One thing, and I know you did not want to mention the 100-year bridge, but just for -- if you don't mind, i've read the miller gray reports. The 500-year and the 100-year bridge both have inundation times of zero. So meaning that they are basically both the same bridge. And I don't know if your staff has told you this, but just like I said reading through it, there is no stoppage of traffic. The ems access is not even an issue at that point. We will continue to go through and, like I said, that's my point about the 100-year bridge. If you look at the bridge renderings, I think a lot of people, of course myself included, thought this is huge. A lot of people voted against the pictures and not a 500-year bridge. A funny thing to notice is on November 8, Commissioner Daugherty, he had an open house and he showed the six options of what could possibly be for the neighborhood. Out of those options, there were six of 31 people said they didn't want to do anything. There were 25 to 31 that said yes, we want a solution, whether it be a bridge this size, this size or this size. That's 81%. When the new -- when the new questionnaire came out, the pictures and we did all the counting, it was 108-degree turn because of the fact of the 500-year bridge option. That being said -- and so that being said, I mean for 180-degree difference of people wanting a bridge is very shocking, is a very shocking stat for you to consider as we move forward. Obviously in your packet you have the fire chief, you have the bee cave chief, police endorsement, you have the mayor's endorsement --
11:03 AMI need to move to the next because i'm managing a lot of folks' time. But I so appreciate you being here. Yes, sir.
And you all do have our packets in front of you. Steve albert. Judge Eckhardt, commissioners, welcome to our homestead meadow fox brexit moment. I learned that the best decisions are made when decision-makers work regionally and work together. I am here today to point out the county code, chapter 482-202 and international fire code d107 which make it clear we need two permanent access roads available. Judge Eckhardt, Commissioner Shea, you know all too well the problems faced by residents of steiner ranch. Remember, they had at least one permanent access, the homestead meadow is starting at zero. There's no other subdivision our six with this problem. There's only a handful of subdivisions using a gated emergency only road as a second access. It would set a really bad precedent to do anything but a major improvement to the low-water crossing. I'm here really to thank the court, thank staff, thank all of the outside consultants who have worked on this project and hope that Judge Eckhardt and mayor parker can work together to come up with a solution in a speedy fashion and realize that time is of the essence and we hope that a solution will be crafted by February 26 when both bodies meet again and y'all have a deadline for your g. O. And c. O. Issue. Thank you.
11:05 AMYour honor, i'm speaking for my wife who is eight months pregnant.
I can't have people double up on -- I totally understand. If she would like to send in written comment, that would be wonderful.
Okay, we'll do that.
Thank you so much for your time.
Thank you, honorable Judge And Commissioner Daugherty, other members of this court. My name is martha norman and my husband and I reside on great divide. Jim built and moved in the neighborhood in 1985. Our wonderful neighbors have already done the heavy lifting of the statistical reasons why we do not want this proposed bridge. We feel it's a total unnecessary waste of tax dollars that could be better spent to benefit for taxpayers in the precinct. I'm speaking to you today of personal responsibility. At 5:20 p. M. My husband suffered a massive heart attack on our upstairs balcony and died. Fortunately I had received cpr training at work and the fine personnel of the bee cave fire department and ems arrived quickly. He subsequently underwent bypass surgery and returned home. Two days later we had to go back to the emergency room at 3:00 a. M. I'm happy to report he is sitting healthy and well behind me. Jim and I have had being discussions over the past 18 years related to this ebenezer in our lives. Because we love the unique quality of our life in this neighborhood, we have made the personal decision to remai behind what we consider the safety of our low-water crossing. We accept and acknowledge full responsibility for that decision should jim suffer another attack. We do not suffer from the pervasive sense of entitlement so rampant today. We neither want nor expect our first responders to risk their lives to cross a low-water crossing. Rather as the airlines instruct everyone put on your own oxygen mask first before making that venture. The only risk we feel is the risk of today's decision by the court to move forward. We love the safety of our low-water crossing affords as we leave behind the rampant development, incredible traffic snarls san hustle and bustle of what used to be the sleepy village of bee cave. When we drive across the crossing, we seek refuge of a rapidly vanishing rural texas.
11:07 AMWe've reached the two minutes. Thank you so much. Yes, sir.
Taylor guess, 4900 great divide in bee cave in the homestead neighborhood. I want to thank all of you for listening to us, Commissioner Daugherty for putting the survey together. I want to thank all the beautiful people behind me who showed up today. It's a shame Dr. Kim wasn't here to see why all these beautiful faces are here, but we'll let him go. Judge Eckhardt and Commissioner Shea, thank you for all your communication on this subject over the last few years. So I live directly next to the low-water crossing so this is very personal for me. My realtor actually is here, has said this could be a head of several hundred thousand dollars to me personally to have a bridge built on top of my driveway, on top of my mailbox, right at my gate. In talking to the engineers, my biggest fear is a safety concern. There's a risk to not doing something, but there's also a great risk of actually doing something. And when people are clamoring do something, you have to ask what are you asking us to do. This is not the solution the neighborhood wants, this is not the solution my neighbor and I feel we deserve. We did not anticipate a 6. 3-month-old bridge being built. This low-water crossing is a barrier to speed, people coming into this neighborhood. I live close to this low-water crossing. Le me tell you something, if you build a $6. 2 million project, people are going to speed across that corner and what am I doing several times a day, my wife with our three young kids, we are polling off into our driveway. There's going to be a one foot or more did he ever even shall between the bridge and driveway. They are going to smooth this out, steep grade, so i'm going to be turning off into my driveway several times a day with my kids. Traffic accidents are real. We've been three receipticly talking about accidents but they haven't happened. Just this last year somebody died in front of spanish oaks because of an icy frosty warning. This could happen on this bridge. Not saying it will, but it could. [buzzer sounding] i'm deeply concerned about the state of me entering my neighborhood and line of sight will be impaired and all it takes is a facebook notification, a text message diagnose this several times a day for the next 20 years something is good to happen. I ask please let the city annex this so we can find a solution at the most local level because we've seen more in the last two weeks --
11:10 AMThank you.
Yes, go ahead. we've seen a lot of progress in the last two weeks.
Thank you, commissioners, judge. I do own the -- lance clawson, I own the property adjacent to the new overpass that's proposed. The place is absolutely gorgeous. I hope that you folks could actually come out and see this piece of property that's on little barton creek. I have two springs, an indian mound with arrowheads, two water falls, it is a beautiful piece of property. My view would turn from incredible hill country creek view to an oversized overpass. My proponents said it best. We have a problem in this world on what we vote on. I think it's crazy that it's generic and we are voting on improvements to roads and wouldn't it be crazy if we actually spoke the truth and said here's what you are voting on, we're voting on this particular project half the size of 360 bridge, 80% of the community does not want, it needs to be annexed. The city owns the roads. The Commissioner Did a survey. This is not wanted. Icing May happen, all of that debris going into barton creek. I wonder what the voters would have said then? I just finished an eight-year condemnation issue in georgetown over my cave, inner space cavern. It went very well but I learned so much. 90% of the things could have been done with just reasoning. Just simple reasoning and common sense. It's funny back when I was in college I asked -- general norman schwarzkopf came down to the ranch and I asked if he would ever run for president, that was 1990. He said it would never happen. He said I can't do it because common sense and logic are not a criteria in politics. Just an interesting statement that stood with me for a long time. But I ask for you guys not to do something. I think Commissioner Shea said it. Extreme proposal is what we're up against here. In our situation I think all these folks thought we had a small little bridge happening and if they would have known the reality the vote would not have been what it is today.
11:12 AMWe'll take the next three people to call us insane and stupid. [laughter]
Do we have -- do we have other speakers for the bridge?
Yes.
Yes, we do.
I know we have, but we have another seat. Is there somebody else? There's only two up here. Is there another person? You don't have to, but there's a seat there for you if you would like to --
11:13 AMThank you.
Good morning, Judge And members of the court. My name is sharon millsap and i'm speaking on behalf of myself and my husband mike millsap. He served four terms in the texas house of representatives representing fort worth, texas, as a democrat. We have been residents of the homestead for going on 30 years. And we highly recommend that a bridge be constructed. We are pleased to hear that there are negotiations going on regarding a second ingress and egress, but that does not minimize the dangers at this low-water crossing poses. In advance I have sent some documents to the court and there's two reports that I would like to highlight. Our daughter has a tendency to run on and on when she's talking and so my husband will say, honey, just give me the bumper sticker version. I'm going to attempt to give you the bumper sticker version of this morning. First of all, we have the history of our low-water crossing closures and that data was provided by Commissioner Daugherty at the town hall meeting a couple months ago. And i'd like to thank you especially, Commissioner Daugherty, for bringing this to the court's attention, to the county's attention and being an advocate for moving forward and addressing this issue no matter what the outcome is. When you look at the low-water crossing closure data over a ten-year period, it shows minimal closures and minimal [inaudible]. However, if you compare the last five years to the previous five years, you will note that not only have the number of closures more than doubled, but the duration of the closures has increased by over 500%. That's a statistic worth noting and that's proof that we need an at last 14-type bridge for our area. Atlas 14. There's the lake travis rescue report of the lightning strikes and they claim -- [buzzer sounding] -- 22% of all levels of fires to homes are due to lightning strikes.
11:15 AMWe need to move to the next person. Thank you so much.
Thank you.
Judge Eckhardt and commissioners, karen winslow, I live in the homestead neighborhood. I'm a registered nurse with over 40 years of experience. I graduated from johns hopkins, served in the navy work corps and worked as a trauma nurse. My first shock room was a three-year-old girl who was injured at her home. I've seen many firsthand situations where an emergency medical care is critical to a patient's recovery. The current low-income at great divide puts lives at risk every time the road floods. If a child or adult is bleeding out or sustains a traumatic brain injury, they cannot afford to wait for water to recede. If a child has an anaphylactic reaction due to allergies, that child needs immediate care. It quickly progress to cardio compromise and death if not treated. When a person has heart attack or stroke they need access to emergency medical services. There's a drug that can be given to stroke patients if they have a clot that can make difference between recovery or permanent disability or death. On a very personal level, my first husband, who was fit, ran seven miles four times a week, had never been sick, died suddenly of a heart attack at age 54. Things happen when you don't expect it. Even when they never happened before. It will be a tragedy if a child or adult sustains permanent injuries or dies unnecessarily due to in accessibility of emergency medical care. Last week the city of bee cave passed a motion to negotiate a second ingress, egress for emergency services vehicles when the low-water crossing floods. A second access has not been established in over 40 years. If completed, the circuitous rut route will have delayed response times when compared to direct access on great divide. It's unlikely ems will be able to meet their five-minute response time goal with the use of this second access. We live in the heart of texas -- [buzzer sounding] -- okay, while -- our two previous residents in homestead who lived on carbide circle, their car washed off the crossing when a flash flood came through. Things do happen and things have happened at that crossing.
11:17 AMThank you. yes, sir.
I'm doug sullivan, stage top circle. Last weekend, hector deleon's grandchildren stayed with us.
11:18 AMI know them.
I know you do. point being, number one, the gamble. What are the odds of a royal flush, one out of 650,000. Have you ever heard anyone who has had a royal flush? My son did. What are the odds of a hole in one? One out of 12,500. I've had one of those. What are the odds on this bridge on the 100-year bridge, 1%. Question, financial capacity according to Mr. Goodwin, who I had lunch with a week or two ago, roughly by the calculation he gave me 25 times as the city of bee cave as well as you cover 1,250,000 plus people, they cover 6,000 to 7,000. The will, the ability you have it. The question becomes too power of hydraulics. I guarantee you if you went through this room and asked three or four basic questions on what would you do if you were in flood waters, most would fail. Because they wouldn't know the first thing to do. They have very little concept of much that can go on. And the fear and panic is amazing. I have been on a flooded river. I know. My last point is simply this. What we have here is a huge failure to communicate. This is all about opposing development. This is all about a bridge being put forth -- [buzzer sounding] -- that is supposedly that bridge is going to open up the gates. One of those gates is Dr. Wong, 1500 acres. Dr. Wong voted against the bridge. I say to you common sense should rule. Yes, I recognize one thing.
11:20 AMI'm sorry, we've reached the two minutes and i'm trying to be equitable.
Thank you.
Good morning, commissioners, terry mitchell, and I live on great divide drive. I did attend that public hearing regarding the bond at the lakeway activity center and was where many adults and young athletes requested support for their playing fields. I did speak in opposition to the peacock road extension on to hamilton pool road and my neighbors spoke in opposition to the bridge at great divide. It's a very scary situation, as right now i'm shaking in my boots to talk to you people. The same bond included bicycle safety projects, pedestrian safety projects, roadway capacity projects, and drainage stream crossing projects. I did vote for the bond because i'm in favor of more bike el paso in our county, -- like baines bike lanes. Mr. Daugherty has been quoted in the community impact newspaper and various emails and text he would not support a bridge if haven't voted against it. Fact number 3, I have lived in the homestead since May of 1986 and there has never been an accident at the low-income due to high water. Fact number 4, we have a turn around, don't drown sign in front of the low-water crossing. My research on the internet shows that this sign complies with the federal highway administration standards as well as with noaa, fema and the national weather service. The demographics in the city of bee cave show 51% of residents in zip code 78738 have a bachelor's or associate's degree. 25. 2% have graduate degrees. I would bet these highly educated residents can read the sign and turn around so they don't drown. 39. 6% are age 40 to 64 years and I would expect them to have maturity to know to turn around, don't drown as evidence by the fact there has not been any accidents in over 36 years I have lived in the homestead. Who knows if that includes the cost of environmental studies or impact of construction on the fragile habitat and ecosystems of little barton creek. Please listen to the city of bee cave.
11:22 AMI'm going to talk fast. julie johnson, homestead. I moved to the homestead 23 years ago in 1996. I chose the homestead because it is a small equestrian community that has lots with acreage large enough to have horses. I have two horses on my six acres. An additional perk is the hike and bridal path. The trail head for the hike and bridal path is on great divide at the low-water crossing on the southwest side of the creek. For us to get to the hike and bridal path we have to ride along great divide. Since we do not have sidewalks or maintained right-of-way or shoulder to speak of, we have to get out into the road at times when there is a cedar tree or thick brush that impedes the ability to use the shoulder of the road. The current low-water crossing helps slow people down. With.
11:23 AMQuestions retrance, hikers and bikers using the road it is critical we keep people from going too fast. Putting in a giant bridge could cause people to drive much master than they do now, a huge safety issue. If a giant bridge is constructed, it will make the trail head to the hike and bridal path difficult to being a receives and most likely impossible to get to at all. If that ever happens, I will be a very unhappy citizen. Bless don't bridge our great divide and thank you for listening.
Frances, I live on great died drive. Honorable commissioners and judge, first of all, I didn't know in the past how to come and speak up and I didn't know emailing you or your staff would make a difference or how to do it. I also find bond wording general and frequently don't know exactly what i'm voting for. But as both a physician and a patient, I am concerned about safety in the homestead and on great divide drive for all county drivers. Including residents, trades persons and delivery people who come in and out of the neighborhood. A large overpass over the low-water crossing will not guarantee safety. It will not solve the problem of a fire such as it was mentioned lightning strikes can occur when there's a storm. The bridge will ice sooner than the adjacent roadway and accidents are looming possibility. I drive over it daily. Driver do slow down when they go over the low-water crossing. But they tend to go faster over large overpasses. In late 2016 I was diagnosed with cancer. In 2017 I drove to over 80 medical appointments, fewer in 2018. I was never in any danger from an overtopped low-water crossing, but I was concerned about bridge icing on highway 71 when driving to a hospital early in 2018. If the low-water crossing is overtopped, I can see it and stop. I can reschedule an appointment. But if there's icing on the bridge that won't be obvious and more dangerous. Allow our city to handle this issue. I do understand they are working on a second egress for emergency vehicles and an early warning system as well. Thank you for listening.
11:25 AMDo we have additional community members who would like to give comment? Anyone else? Come on down. We've got seats available. Again, I would ask you if someone else has made your point, if you could just refer to their comments, but if you have something new to express, a different take on the issue, that would be welcome. Why don't we get the table full. We've got one more chair. Why don't we start from my left and work to the right, so that would be house right to house left.
11:26 AMJoe, 5608 divide drive. initially I was not sympathetic to concerns my neighbors expressed. One of the concerns is about various types of medical issues. Snake bites and husbands with heart disease and, you know, grandmothers, et cetera who have various types of issues. I took that to heart and in December of 2017 I took the time to evaluate a couple of things. One was the emergency access route, and the second one was to arrange for emergency evacuation by helicopter. I spent months on this. It culminated? An email that I cents out after many discussions with various organizations that provide emergency evacuation. And I sent it out to everyone in the homestead. For less than $100, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you can be air lifted in the event of an emergency. Now, sometimes we had weather issues. The big concern is flooding. The interesting thing is when the bridge floods, it's after the storm has passed. The water comes down, it goes through the various areas, it goes down the stream, the flood has passed and so some concerns were, well, maybe at that point in time when the one time in my life I need a helicopter it might be raining and storming, said, well, I don't know, that's interesting. My wife and I don't share the concern and we were not willing to spend the $60 because we're fine, but it was interesting to me that the many neighbors who have spoken and addressed these concerns medically are not willing to spend $60 for their loved ones, but they are willing to spend $6 million of county money. That doesn't make any sense to me. I think a little personal responsibility and possibly taking action on their own makes more sense than the bridge. Thank you.
11:28 AMJudge Eckhardt, Commissioner Gomez, Commissioner Daugherty, Commissioner Shea and Commissioner Travillion i'm from louisiana, we don't say travillion.
I've heard of a number of ways. You would be surprised.
Anyway, I just want to point out that when we look at this issue of the -- before I do that, I do want to make a quick thanks to Commissioner Daugherty. We for years didn't know what we wanted and by the virtue of his survey we do know. I really appreciate that. When you look at this issue, emergency access is actually the biggest thing that drove our ranking. The problem I saw with all this is this is a case to me of the solution driving the process as opposed to the problem driving the proces. As far as I can tell, a bridge is neither a complete solution, not the fastest, cheapest solution, it's basically not the best solution. The bridge only addresses flooding. It still is subject to road closure events, wildfires,% accidents. When we were in school, what did our teachers equal an incomplete solution, wrong. I'll point out that at historical rates for what the closure -- what flooding closure has cost us that the two years of closures we're going to face would take another 800 years of flooding closures to equal. Another solution is cheaper, the emergency access is cheaper, so you can't say the bridge is a great solution on that aspect. And a safest solution would maintain the current record our low-water crossing has got. So whether you look at it, it really looks like adding a second emergency access is the best thing. It's a complete solution, not subject to road closure events. It's incredibly cheap. This the best case, we might only be paying for two locks on either end of the emergency access. If you build in the road barricade or the water barricade, that brings it up to about $120,000, not 6. 2. [buzzer sounding]
11:30 AMThank you, sir.
We're developing --
I just want to say thank you. Thank you, please let the city of bee cave doity job.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to us. Biz elizabeth guess. I want to thank you for taking the time and allowing us to make our voices heard through this survey, Commissioner Daugherty, that was really important to gauge the sentiment and we found a resounding over 80% in opposition to the bridge. So we thank you for that. I live directly next to the low-water crossing. And will be severely impacted in a negative way, in many ways, financially, aesthetically and in my opinion this bridge creates a daily danger for my family. Our property will be impacted negatively by several hundred thousand dollars per real estate agents in town, but I guess money can be recovered through the hard work in our free market system. The things that cannot be recovered are having an overpass in my front yard. People signed up for a low-water crossing when they moved in and I guess I should have known when I purchased my property in 2014 that an overpass would be constructed on top of my mailbox. The true danger lies in the fact this bridge will be at least one foot, maybe more, but one foot higher than my driveway. As I pull out climbing that differential in my vehicle, my line of sight will be impaired. In addition as I pull in to my property several times a day and have to come to a complete stop practically to turn into my driveway, which is so close to the low-water crossing, you see the low-water crossing has acted as a speed deterrent as you've heard. And people slow down and an overpass will see people accelerating, but I will be coming to a near stop in the middle of the -- of great divide so I can begin the decurrent into my driveway. All it takes is a facebook notification, a text message to gather someone's attention. Those risks accelerate on a frosty morning. If you do that several times a day between my husband and three children, over the next 20 years and yes, the odds of a traffic accident are significant, certainly more real than a theoretical accident we are fearing at the low-water crossing which hasn't occurred in its 40-year history.
11:32 AMThank you. the next person.
Thank you.
Shirley barkley and thanks to all of you including Commissioner Shea. I think most of the issues have been addressed so I won't waste your time to hear the ones that would indicate that this project is too big, it's an indication of massive government overreach, in my opinion. It's too expensive. Your money can be spent better in other ways, and how many times do you hear citizens say that. But there's a movement afoot in this country and in travis county and the city of bee cave, and the individuals want to have more power over their own lives. And so we're asking you today to give up your power over what this bridge looks like or acts like and just know that we are as concerned about safety as anyone. I'm at the age, frankly, where I could have a heart tomorrow. Yet I know that I have the emergency numbers and I can call starflight, I can call, you know, and get help. If we have an access that doesn't invite a new road to be built behind our properties, then that's perfectly acceptable to us who are -- i'm not only a germaprobe. Let us as individuals have more power over our own lives. God bless you. Thank you forral that you've done. Thank you for that survey. Thank you for hearing us because I sense today as I looked, and I know that we represent different parties here, different ways of thinking, but each and every one of you have paid attention to everyone who has spoken. Thank you. [buzzer sounding] thank you.
11:35 AMThank you.
Christen nunley. i'm here to add a face and name to those against improvements. I appreciate the time and attention you are giving to this issue. Judge Eckhardt, the county's concern for our safety is truly appreciated. But considering our city is close to securing alternate access for emergency vehicles during a flood, I believe there are greater needs in travis county that would be better served with these funds. The sense of community we enjoy in our neighborhood is very unique and special. As a mother of four children, I also have five nieces and nephews in this neighborhood, dozens of other children in this neighborhood that are very special to me. I'm very concerned about our safety, but I do believe having a secondary access during a flood is more than adequate to alleviate my concerns. I hope you will do what you can to help us preserve the small community feel of our neighborhood by annexing our low-water crossing to the city of bee cave. Thank you.
11:36 AMHi, my name is katie clausen, 4901 great divide drive on the property directly joint to the low-water crossing. And the home that my husband and I built 15 years ago out in the country with a view of the creek would become -- would then instead have a view of the under side of an overpass if we were to get this proposed bridge. Thank you for taking the heart the overwhelming majority vote on Commissioner Daugherty's survey against the overpass proposed by the county, and thank you for wanting to know how we feel and what we think. And this is an overwhelming showing of the neighborhood today asking you to please allow the city of bee cave to annex our low-water crossing. You would be protecting my family and me from such a dangerous proposition. I'm a mother of three and I too along with others here today am a mother of a special needs child. Additionally this child has life-threatening anaphylactic allergies. Emergency access and safety is utmost concern in our lives, about out this bridge is a red herring for safety. This is not a safety issue and i'm so thankful to hear yesterday's meeting went well with the city which will potentially provide an emergency access in the unprobable event emergency access is needed during a low-water crossing flood. An overpass would put my children in danger, damage my family financially and would be a very hard hit for my family. Please let the city of bee cave handle a solution and please don't destroy my home.
11:37 AMJames green, curry pass in homestead in the back. To illustrate my point, I would like to recount a discussion I had after our last city council meeting with a local politics who does support the bridge. I pointed out I understand some people see this as a safety issue but we can secure an alternate egress and increase and doing that would validate the results of the formula that classifies our low-water crossing as dangerous. I also reminded this person that taxpayers across the county would be paying for this unnecessary and irresponsible overpass, comes to over $30,000 per house in the homestead. This person's counter point was that the money has already been secured and if we don't spend it on this overpass, it will be reallocated to the east side of the county and we don't want the money going over there. I took strong issue with that. If the county can benefit citizens over there, they should. This elected official said you would never use the money responsibly saying this is government and going under reference the stories we've heard about $40,000 toilet seat, i'm here to ask you to prove this person and using it toker the greatest possible good. I have faith you will be good stewards, not build this overpass and support bee cave in solving this ourselves within our community. Thank you.
11:39 AMThank you. is there anyone else who would like to give comment? Again, we've heard a lot that is very duplicative. Having more people say the same thing is not going to necessarily -- it will not be more persuasive. I think we've -- unless you have something really radically different from the many speakers before, all right, let's start with -- from this side and move to this side.
Yes, good morning. i'm john street. I'm a 51-year taxpayer of our county. One thing that's unusual and different is I don't know how many people come to you and ask you to not spend money on them but to put it in other places.
About 30 other people. [laughter]
11:40 AMI imagine not all the time. I'm here also asking you to defer the money to other parts of the city. Every time i've gone across that low-water crossing since I teach civil engineering or have at the university of texas as well as construction and development, i've wondered why the developer didn't put in larger boxed culverts or reinforced concrete pipes. I'll give you back the time except to say there are other alternatives. It doesn't have to be a massive structure or nothing. There are many other alternatives, much more cost effective. Thank you.
Thank you.
Good morning, my name is jacqueline, I live on saddleback pass in the homestead. This is my first time speaking in a county setting and i've been really impressed with the level of professionalism displayed by commissioners and staff so thank you. I'm in agreement with the opposition express to do the 500-year flood bridge and in favor of the city annexing the low-water crossing. I've heard a lot of people talk about safety and especially pointing out the needs of those with chronic health conditions or those with accessibility concerns. I applaud anyone in that position who is advocating for their personal needs, but I take issue with someone speaking broadly for a population with diverse needs. I am a mother of two young daughters, one of whom has a serious health condition. People have told me, you know, you should be afraid and you should want this bridge. And I don't feel afraid. I think, you know, especially having someone with a chronic health condition brings into folk thaws every activity in life has a degree of risk. It carries a degree of risk. But you have to balance that with quality of life issues. And I got in my car this morning to come here, that carried a degree of risk, but this is important to me so I came. There's a health risk for my daughter when she plays outside, when she goes to story time at the library, when she flies on an airplane, but we still choose to do that because her quality of life is important to us. And yes, there is a small risk to have a low-water crossing at the fronts of our neighborhood, but we chose to live in the neighborhood because the environment and community present there is important to us. So let's listen to the fears and concerns of those that have them without dictating that the rest of us live in fear too. Please allow the city of bee cave to continue with our annexation efforts so we can work at the closest level to address the concerns of all. Thank you.
11:42 AMThank you. yes, ma'am.
Hi, i'm cara hardy.
I'm [inaudible] hardy.
We feel like most everything has been set. You have done a beautiful job, homestead. Verity would like to share her point of view.
I don't want the bridge. [laughter]
Yes, ma'am. yes, sir.
Judge And commissioners, thank you so much for hearing us out. I'll be very brief. I want to particularly thank Commissioner Daugherty for doing the survey which gives us -- i'll just make two quick points. I'm here in support of my neighbors in particular where the bridge would directly impact them. I'm so proud to be a member of the homestead and I feel as if people are showing up to support their neighbors, especially those most impacted. The second point is my wife and I are doing a prairie restoration so we take very seriously the character of the neighborhood and its rural component and we have now a species count of 380 so we're trying to protect plants that don't survive very well on roadways. Thank you.
11:43 AMThank you. yes, sir.
Good morning, thank you for the opportunity to speak. I'm rick, I live at 5400 great divide in the homestead and my wife and I have lived there for 36 years. I wrote a nice speech for you. And i'm not going to spend your time giving it. What I would like to do is just say what you've seen this morning and what is proven by Commissioner Daugherty's survey is that the vast majority of people in the homestead do not want this bridge. There are a handful of people that have testified to you today and that have sent emails and have tried to impress upon you that this neighborhood wants something that it doesn't. Please cooperate with the city of bee cave to proceed with allowing the city to annex this property. And please stand down on construction of the bridge by the county. Thank you.
11:44 AMThank you. all right. That does it for public communication. We're at 11:44. We have 15 minutes of deliberation. Commissioner Daugherty.
Judge, as I said before, I mean, i'm certainly not ready to make any sort of a motion today. I think -- and I thank everybody for coming down. And I just hope sincerely, y'all, that this neighborhood can heal, because I know that this has been very emotional for a lot of people. And, hey, i've been upset with people with what they've said to me. And i'm sure people feel like i've said something to them that they didn't want said or didn't like. This is a democracy. The reason that I insisted on doing this survey is because I always knew that there was controversy. I just didn't know where it really was. And I certainly see both sides. I mean, I can see where there are people that are very, very fearful that they want to know that they can get out under most circumstances. So I do understand that. I also understand when somebody said, you know, when you moved here this was a low water crossing. No one made you move here. And that's a very compelling argument, you know, as well. But I do think that we have gone about this the right way. I didn't know that bee cave was going to annex the thing the way it looks like that they're going to. The mayor and I had talked, you know, in the last several months about if you build it, well, then, we'll annex it at that time. I said that's great. I've always felt like the city of bee cave ought to own the low water crossing. You own both sides of it. But I think I understand why that has never been the case. There probably has been enough prodding now to move forward on that. I get the impression just, you know, and maybe i'm wrong with this, that people would be accepting of something. But I think that that's something that, you know, that the community needs to get together and determine. But I have always felt this -- that if this court was going to make a decision on what to do, we would do it predicated on what the engineers have told us. And that is if you really want to get people out of harm's way -- and it does get larger. I mean, it does get longer, because you've got a wide span whenever you're talking about this little barton creek watershed. It holds and pushes water out to the point where you do have to have a four o or five-hundred-foot span of a bridge. That's just what the engineering and the math showed. Nobody was trying to pencil-whip anybody with that. But I do think that there needs to be time to see what the city is going to get done. Every indication to me is that they intend to move forward, you know, with this thing. And I think that this court will act accordingly, given the legal opinions about we can't stop that. And so I think there's a little more time here that needs to happen. We need to see what bee cave is going to do. And I do think, judge, that that's going to be sooner than later. But I would hope that, you know, people that really feel like that they're not getting anything, you know, can get something to where, you know, it's better in their mind than what they have now. But that's going to be up to y'all. I'm not going to dictate that. If I had it to do over again, as many people that have said things to me, I was like, wow. Somebody really thinks that i've got some angle. I have trade to be the most honest broker in this deal that I could possibly be, you know. I'm not going to try to talk anybody into that. Iti'm not known for telling you something I think you want. I'm known for telling you what I think you need to hear. But I couldn't tell you that until I had this survey. So I appreciate the time that you've spent, you know, with us this morning and all the efforts that y'all -- both sides, wherever you are, I sincerely appreciate your efforts. I would ask -- I know a bunch of people came on a bus. A show of hands, who is in the parking garage, who drove? If you're in the parking garage, if you will go to my office on the second floor, we'll give you something so you can get out. Okay. I mean, but if you are in the garage, you can get out, because you're probably going to have a few-dollar bill if you don't let me get you out of the garage. Anyway, judge, I would say that we give bee cave some time to determine. And I will stay in touch with them. I know the mayor's going to stay in touch with you as to where we're going to go with this thing. So, thank you very much.
11:50 AMOother comments? Commissioner Shea.
I just want to thank everyone for showing up, and also acknowledge Commissioner Daugherty for really engaging in some rigorous community discussion and engagement to get the true sentiment of the community. So this to me was a great example of local democracy in action. Thank you.
11:51 AMThank you.
Thank you very much. [ applause ]
I would just like to reiterate that county government in texas exists to provide a basic level of service across the entire county. So we endeavor to create standards that prove up equity irrespective of what wa quadrant of the county you live in. Travis county is a thousand square miles, half of which is un-incorporated. We endeavor to create that common standard throughout. We recognize that when a community inside of a municipality wants to set a different standard, we want to support them in doing that. So this is exactly the process -- this is the process playing out. We appreciate you participating in that process. We hope that you stay engaged in that process. We will have another bond election around the 2023 timeframe. We will be looking at our list of needs. County government pays for roads, bridges, drainage. The sheriff's department response, the star night night flight response, the austin-travis county medical response. These are, again, standard response and infrastructure that we are trying to create countywide. So please stay engaged on it. We really appreciate your help. We've go lots and lots of information on our website if you want to do a deeper dive into the infrastructure and services that the county is trying to provide not only to you, but to all residents of travis county, no matter where you might be. You May live in the homestead, but you might be over in del valle one day at a soccer game and you're going to be thankful for that standard of infrastructure and response. So, thanks very much for your participation. With that, we will break until 1:30 for lunch and come back to take care of the rest of our business this afternoon.
11:53 AMWhat was the point of having this item?
I'll be happy to come down and address that for you if you'd like. Sure.
1:37 PMWe have returned from our lunch break. We had a full morning. We'll jump back in first convening at the bee cave road district for one item, agenda item number 2, authorize the county treasurer to invest county funds.
Move approval.
Second.
All those in favor? that passes unanimously. Commissioner Travillion temporarily off the dais. Thank you, brigid. And if there's no objection, we will adjourn the bee cave road district and jump back into our voting session items. Let's take up agenda item number 9, which is receive presentation and discuss the bundled pricing surgery center model and rfp. As you get set, i'll remind the commissioners court that a provider had brought a novel delivery device to us, a bundled pricing surgery center model. It went to our employee benefits committee to review and then health and human services had developed an rfping on out for bid for possible models. That came back to commissioners court and there was a question as to neutral party information with regard to the relative pros and cons and risk distribution on bundled pricing surgery center models. Is that a fair description of where we are? Good to see you.
1:39 PMGood afternoon, judge, commissioners, shannon steele, hrmd benefits manager. Mark o'leary frost is our benefits consultant. He's helped us evaluate several things with this current contract and in the past with other evaluations of rfps, the most recent [inaudible]. So he's put together some information to explain this to you.
Good afternoon, Judge And commissioners. Today what I want to do is take a step back and just look at because the question has been asked do these make sense. It helps to take a step back and look at how does the structure of the health plan work and we'll get into what these arrangements really look like and what the pros and cons are. Today is more of a pros and cons discussion, more than anything else. An objective, nonopinionated overview. My agenda starts with how your plan is structured, then going into the reimbursement arrangements in particular with respect to hospitals and facilities, we call them outpatient in the industry or surgery centers. And go into what the contracts have traditionally looked at and what the new bundled payments arrangement looks like as discussed here and give you an overview of that. Then go into how the market been if you want to move forward. That's the big question of the if upped to move forward. That's the agenda for today. I'll move on to the next slide. For purposes of just general% information, I think, judge, commissioners, you are aware of this, but for the general public it's helpful to know your plan is called a self-insured plan meaning that reflect below retail. They have various ways that these contracts are created and they are complex. They are not easy to understand unless you work in that world. In any particular contract various treatments can be paid in different ways. For example, most common -- a most common type of reimbursement would be there's a surgery, and let's just pick hip, for example. There's a negotiated fee schedule for that surgery. So every service that's rendered at the hospital for that knee surgery is billed by the hospital to united health care and they have a specific price that they reimburse that service for. So, for example, if a nurse comes in and changes a bandage, there would be a price for that and the hospital might bill 100, but united health care has a fee schedule in plays with the hospital that would be $50. That's the negotiated fee so they would get a 50% discount. Another way that the hospital can be reimbursed is on a daily rate, that's called a per diem. Per diems are set up so that every day you are in the hospital the hospital gets a flat dollar amount. Those are split by medical, surgical, icu, sometimes icu is split out into neonatal and nonkneey natal. If you are admitted to the hospital, you have pneumonia, you are going in for a nonsurgical procedure but going into the hospital for several days, there's a flat rate reimbursement for every day you are in the hospital. Fight be 3,000, 4,000, $5,000. That's a flat amount paid to the hospital by your plan for every day that a member is in the hospital for that particular condition. If there's a surgery involved, that rate would be higher than a medical per diem. So the surgery might have a reimbursement rate of 4,000 or $5,000 per day and that's strictly for the hospital. The physician side of things, so whenever you are in the hospital there's a physician involved, the physician would be reimbursed separately from all that. So the hospital is over here, then you got the physician. If you go in for surgery while you are in the hospital, there's an anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist is billed separately from the surgeon and from the hospital. So all of those expenses add up to the cost of a hospital stay. But when it's a per diem, the hospital gets its flat rate per day. The surgeon gets a discount or a fee schedule based reimbursement, and the anesthesiologist would get a discount or fee based reimbursement. You are starting to see how complex this system can be for any hospital stay. There are also case rates. A case rate is a -- for example, would be a neurology condition that you go into the hospital and there's a flat rate that the hospital gets reimbursed for a particular procedure that falls under neurology. It might be $20,000. And so whether you are in the hospital two days, five days, ten days, the hospital is going to get reimbursed a flat rate based on the diagnosis and treatment that's performed by the particular hospital. Flat rates commonly apply to orthopedic procedures, so knee, hip, shoulder, as well as neurology and some, some maternity. Kind of routine maternity conditions. So the hospital might get for a newborn, it might get $6,000. And that's it. And then the doctor delivering the baby would get reimbursed separately. And if there was a c-section and there was an anesthesiologist involved, the anesthesiologist would get reimbursed separately. That's kind of the third rung in how hospitals get reimbursed. The four rung is discounts. And that's kind of the one contracts. So yes, there's a valid point there that it does take -- it takes clients to exert that kind of pressure on a big insurance company and to make them move the needle.
2:22 PMI understand there's a need for this type of structural push that you just described, but for a lot of employees insurance is something that we look at two weeks before christmas and make sure that we sign up for the right thing. And i'm more interested in scenarios that tell me -- the reason I have a ppo is I had a son who played football out of state. Once we were somewhere, we didn't have a ppo and it took an act of congress to get him the care that he needed where a ppo will go across state lines. I need to know scenarios where these are common things that our workforce is experiencing and this is how this might help them and this -- so that it becomes more practical rather than esoteric. We can talk policy, but if i'm a patient with a kid who brakes his arm at football practice at 6:00 and he needs surgery, which center do I take him to, how much less am I going to have to pay because i'm involved -- the scenarios that we are confronted with and ultimately how we get to a place where we can say that for our workforce this makes sense. You know, so and maybe it's some things that happen to kids on one end, maybe replacing our knees, hopefully i'm a few years from that, but I need scenarios that tell me why, you know, I get it generally, but if certain things happen, why is this the right way to go.
2:24 PMJust a briefing on that, emergencies really aren't going to be part of this program. This is more for scheduled treatments, if you will.
Scheduled low-risk patient --
Right. it's for an emergent treatment like that, we all face that dilemma. I was in new york this summer and my son had a toe infection and my question was where do we go and what do we do. Fortunately we're in a ppo, as a matter of fact, but for those situations there are other ways to do that. There's the urgent care centers, there's the emergency centers, there's also the -- the virtual visits that call the doc and get advice on where to go and the nurse line. But for these you are really looking like I need to have surgery, you are going to meet with the doctor, schedule the procedure, then the question comes where does that doctor direct you to, the facility. That is going to be difficult, I think, to try to navigate no matter what because you're going to have to find some way to educate the plan participant, and that's where we all find it's very difficult to move the needle forward, if you will, is getting the plan participant to ask the doctor should I have it done here or here, why are you recommending here and why not here. That's a challenge. Like you said, we have -- we conduct enrollment meetings, our firm year round with groups, and most individuals make a decision based on the package and information they are delivered, get an id card in the mail and throw the package away and they never see it again. And then when something happens, they have to relearn everything they were told during open enrollment. So it's not fresh in their mind.
2:26 PMI'm just trying to get to a place where we understand exactly, you know, what the benefits are, practical benefits, and who the primary targets would be. Who would benefit the most from it. And then who might not see a difference. %
If you were to look at designing something and adding this, and that's the big -- i'm using I don't want this to get replayed and go he's advocating for or against, i'm using the word 'if. ' you probably want to look at% it and do a pilot program. Just a small test pilot program, a few conditions. And I think that the most obvious ones are the frequenty performed treatments and that's the hip and knee and joint replacements. Those are going to be the easy low-hanging fruit to look at and see how that goes. And educate your plan participants about that so that they are aware of this model and what's available and see how many adopt it and see how many try it. And based on that feedback find out what the outcomes were from the members, do some surveys on them, and then if the ground swell continues to grow, then you've got some momentum there. But if it doesn't, then I think you say, well, the pilot program didn't work. But I would also advocate that you do this under the umbrella of united health care. I think if you're going to look at this and do it directly with the surgery center, you're going to put yourself in the line of some what going through that credentialing process I mentioned earlier, which is you need to periodically review the training and certifications of the doctors and the facilities and making sure they are in compliance. But you've got a tpa, you've got united health care that is already doing much of that for you. If we can move them to get an arrangement in place on their own, then that's going to give you just the plan for all the participants, the option to use this. The choice. And then you're allowing the plan and the member to look at the transparent cost along with their doctor. Most of these doctors that can perform proce procedures at surgery centers can admit in multiple systems. Then the member has to ask why do you want to send me to seaton when I can go here. That's a tough thing to do as a member, but that's really what this involves, is the member being engaged at that level. There's no question that if the member asks that of the provider, the provider is going to say to themselves you know, maybe I need to think about that. However, it's really up to the provider to make those decisions. We all trust our doctor. I mean, they are the ultimate authority. But sometimes it's up to the member to ask the difficult questions of where do you want to send me. And I think by using united healthcare as your leverage here, you also get out of the role of having to be in a network, as well as if you use united healthcare, they then can process the claims. And that's important. The reason being, anytime there's a claim that is submitted for payment, there's personal health information that's going to be disclosed. And that personal health information can include the diagnosis, the treatment, the name, the date of birth, the gender. You know everything about that member. You really want an independent third party to do that for you. You want to keep everyone within the county, kind of, out of the way of that knowledge, not informed.
2:30 PMSo am I understanding you to say that the only way for a real apples to apples comparison is to work with the existing third-party administrator, and the network we're operating within as opposed to bringing in somebody else and having different options which might not give us an apples to apples comparison?
2:31 PMI think you get an appcles to appl apples, but the question would be would united healthcare work with that particular provider, and if they would, then you can put it under that umbrella. But if they say we're not going to be involved in any of that payment cycle and we're not going to deal with that negotiation, we're not going to put the reimbursements in our system, then the county's going to have to do that on its own.
Well, also, mark, i'd like to know -- I want to explore this option. This is intriguing. And as a self-insured organization -- which is novel -- less novel now. But when we first embarked on being a self-insured organization, it was rather novel. There are great benefits to being a self-insured organization. We are essentially a nonprofit insurance company contracting with another insurance company that provides administration, legal standards, and operational standards, as well as negotiating heft in putting together a network for our population of employees and their families. So one thing I have concern about -- and i've expressed that concern from this dais when we were, I felt, jumping forward with an rfp very quickly based on one vendor -- is that if this option is not part of our network, what does that do to our network? If this option is very popular and creams out our low-risk surgical procedures, what does that do to the rest of our network? Because the network -- we design our plan, and then we look to our tpa to assist us in designing a network that will maximize the cost and benefit balance for that plan. So if we have our plan, our network, and then we have this other thing over here, how does that change that calibration? I would much prefer us to have this new option underneath our network. But that's not my understanding of what this rfp necessarily was.
2:33 PMI agree. the rfp originally was intended to go out and find a party that the county could potentially direct contract with. So it would be, in your example, using your right hand, outside. Your left hand was the united healthcare network, if I remember correctly. So in this particular case -- based on the rfp, you'd be looking for a direct contract. Now, it's also conceivable that whatever organization the county were to choose as that bundled service provider is already in-network with united healthcare.
2:34 PMAnd the assertion by the service provider that came and pitched the idea to us -- and I just want to be transparent. I get freaky and I hope y'all will recognize this, whenever it's a specific service provider coming and pitching to us directly. That's where my freakiness comes from. It's not that the idea is bad. I just get an allergic reaction when a specific provider is coming before us pitching, in advance of us doing an rfp for that service. [ laughing ] that causes me great concern, particularly professional service providers, for many of the reasons we've discussed with regard to professional services being exempt from competitive bid. So that's where my allergic reaction comes from. I see great issue not just in the medical field, but in many of the things that we do in carving out pieces for specific providers because they pitched us a new idea. However, let me ask this. We recently re-upped our contract with united healthcare, did we not?
2:35 PMYes.
How long is the contract for?
I think there is three more renewal options. I believe it's three more.
In any case, we just re-upped it.
We did the rfp in 2014.
I'm thinking that we're real close to going out again, within the next two to three years.
In two years.
Two years. you said you re-upped it last year.
Two years, I apologize.
2:36 PMWe can get that information. my point being, a lot goes into designing the network in response to our healthcare plan. The rfp that came before us previously was to go out and look for bundled surgical center provider, and to expand our contract to use mark's services to put that rfp together. Is that correct? What I would like to suggest that we do instead but to achieve hopefully the same goal of utilizing this new market offering is instead look at how we would contract for mark's services to work with our tpa on a piloted program for specific surgical procedures that would be a good, clean comparison so that we could build this into our network in a phased and very conscious approach that doesn't favor a specific provider over another, that creates maximum flexibility to maximize our negotiating leverage along with our tpa in creating our network.
2:37 PMI'll second that.
Thank you.
Judge.
Yes.
Before we go to a vote, I had a question to just try and understand some of the mechanics of this. Does our contract with united health prevent us from providing an additional option like this for our employees? And part of the reason I ask, if the example that the presenter gave is any indication of the potential savings, the surgery example he gave was almost twice as much through the standard hospital option that's available under our united healthcare insurance program. So it seems to me if we can save maybe as much as 50% on surgical procedures, that should be benefit us as a self-insured entity, and certainly benefit the employees. So I guess I want to understand, does our current contract with united health prevent us from doing an add-on like this? And, I mean, I understand the notion of insurance. You pool together high and low risk and you even it out. But if you can save a very large amount of money on basic surgical procedures, it seems to me we would benefit as the self-insured entity. So i'd like an answer to both of those.
2:39 PMIf I can comment on something shannon reminded me, when we look at that example, I do want to keep in mind that that was a low-risk patient. It was a comparison of a major hospital to an outpatient surgery center. So the hospital is going to have the higher-cost charges. And the hospital generally is going to charge more. If you currently have individuals who are already going to some ambulatory service centers or surgical centers, the cost delta's not going to be as significant. It's not going to be as big as 50%, if you will. But more than likely there will be a difference. I just can't say how much that is. That is one of the difficulties we've had in looking at your data, is separating the low-risk admissions at the hospitals and looking at how much they cost per procedure to the surgery centers themselves, because we don't have access to whether a patient that went into st. David's was a high risk or low risk. That just is not reported in any shape to us.
2:40 PMAnd I think that's important for us to look at in regard to our treatment of our overall network. What i'm trying to avoid here is if we were to cream out to surgical centers our low risk, and the surgical centers don't have the risk absorption capacity of the hospital networks, what does that do with regard to our tpa's negotiation with the hospitals on our rates for everyone else?
I just think ultimately, my interest is how does the average public employee, how does the average county employee benefit. How does this benefit the portfolio. And what options become available that weren't available before. Or if they were available before, now they cost less. I'm kind of interested in what that continuum looks like. I mean, does it make sense for the whole workforce?
2:41 PMAnd if I could just loop back, i've had kind of a technical question that I think's important here. Does anyone know, does our current contract with united health or whatever the configuration is, are we prevented from making something like this surgical option available?
I think that May go to barbara and she's got her finger up over there.
I'm not quite sure which question i'm supposed to answer, because I hear two questions there.
I'm just trying to understand --
Now, i'm sorry. I didn't hear what you had said.
2:42 PMI had asked earlier, can we legally add this on? Is there some prohibition against us doing it? I'm just trying to understand the legality of our current arrangement.
And there's two ways to interpret the question can we add this on. The first way to interpret it is, can we ask that united include this type of nonhospital facility be available for surgeries. And we already have some of those in our network. And yes, we could ask for more of those to be put in our network as part of what we are doing in what we've got. Does the contract preclude us from entering into some other arrangement for service that is in no way associated with our network and in no way associated with united, no, it does not preclude us from doing that. But, if we did do that, remember that there are services that are provided in relation to verifying -- credentialing, that was the word I was looking for, i'm sorry -- credentialing the facility and the providers who are at the facility that we will have to factor into our costs and into our business model. And so we have to be very careful when we take that second option.
2:43 PMOkay.
Your question is about for the employees. Our plan design can be changed however we decide on the plan design.
But in general, commissioner, to your question of if you just were to do it and it were built into the united healthcare network today, the bundled charges -- so a member benefit would be, first of all, to a certain extent there's a choice of whether you have the service done at a surgery center or a hospital. That's choice number one. Some of that is more driven by the doctor, we know that. The second point is that the charges at the surgery center are lower than a hospital. Our members out of pocket, what they pay, will be less at a surgery center than a hospital. So there is definitely a financial impact -- a beneficial financial impact to the member to have that go to the surgery center. Does that give you a feel for the continuum?
2:44 PMI'm just trying -- for the average consumer, the average travis county employee that would use it, what would the benefits be. And that was a clear benefit, that the surgery center costs less. I'm just trying to make sure that I understand the difference between what a costs and what b costs.
Okay. I continue to be amazed at the resistance from looking at something that is totally beneficial for the user, that being the travis county employee, especially when it is your choice. For the life of me I just don't understand why we are resisting that. And there is resistance, you know, to this. The reason that I wouldn't normally -- or I wouldn't probably naturally go to uhc is because they haven't proved to me that they've been very interested in finding innovative ways to do these kind of things. Now, if we're going to all of a sudden we want to do this now but we want uhc to do it, I bet you that there is a cost if uhc is going to be involved in it. Then the savings to the employee is not going to be as great. And that is the obligation that I think that we have not only to our employee, but also to the taxpayer. Because I do think that the more of this that's done, we will witness a lower premium, because people are going to have to do that, because they're going to watch more business evaporate from the program. I don't think this thing is -- you know, that we're going to have 200 people do this deal, because there's still probably a lit skittishness about i've got to go over there. But some people are going to try it from the savings standpoint. The reason that I thought -- I don't give a flip whether it's texas free market surgery. I mean, you can read all this stuff right here. There are a lot of people in this game today. There's not just one. [ chuckling ] I mean, people are getting in this game. And I think that you'll have people that'll go, put that rfp out and let us show you what we can do. That's the design. I've never minded somebody coming to me with an idea. Somebody's got to come to you with an idea. And most of the time they come to you with an idea because yes, it is a business model from their standpoint. But i'm smart enough to know -- and I think this court is smart enough to know if you're going to bring me something, what is the benefit to me. I don't give a flip if you make somethin. That's fine. I'm glad you're going to make something if i'm going to save something and if employees are not going to have to have -- I think the free market was really interesting to me because they said no copay. And I don't know, I guess there's probably somebody that'll do that. You can do it when you can save the monumental dollars, whether it's 50%, whatever the number, mark. But we know that you just have a lot less expensive operation when you're, you know, in these surgery centers because they have so few people -- they're loaded with doctors, I mean, because that's what they do in these things. So the more we come up with well, I don't know that we can do that, and let me answer it this way, I mean, I think we're just beating around the bush. I mean, if we're afraid to do it, i'm okay with a pilot. But I don't think that we ought to do a pilot with uhc, unless uhc says it's probably easier under our umbrella and we can do this thing, and we're going to pay the surgery center just like we're going to pay seaton.
2:48 PMCommissioner, would you like to go out on an rfp for our tpa because you're so dissatisfied with united?
The only reason that i'm a little miffed with united is because nothing like this has been brought to us. And why haven't they been? And the reason they haven't been, I think, is because --
We have outperformed the market with regard to our plan and our network.
I don't care what we've outperformed in the market.
2:49 PMThat's important to state. we have outperformed the market with regard to our plan and our network.
That doesn't make any difference.
It makes a big difference to our employees who have a richer list of services that are available to them. And we outperform with regard to the cost of those services and the actuarial expectations. That means that we're doing a really good job. I hear what you're saying with regard to innovation. And I am all for the innovation. What i'm not for is creating a two-tiered system for our employees, one of employees who have low medical risk and low need outside of network, and then a network that's a high-risk pool. We've seen what happens in the larger market when you do that.
So you're --
And so I think we should pursue this idea. I want it to be in-network because I think that we need to have one network in order to maximize the balancing of cost, quality, and capacity for all of our employees.
2:50 PMI don't think that we can get sidetracked with this low risk versus somebody else not getting the same thing. Some people have different medicalneeds. And for every person that needs a knee operation, that would be like saying well, we're not going to let you have a good deal because --
Commissioner, we don't have the in-house capacity to manage surgical centers out of network on their legal standards, their certification standards, their billing, their cost, their quality and their capacity.
Judge, why do you think this is so --
That's why we have a tpa.
Why do you think this is so rampant? I mean, this is happening everywhere. I mean, it's growing.
2:51 PMAnd i'm suggesting that it happen here, too, in-network.
I don't know if it's happening here or not. It's such a struggle. You know.
I'd like to make a suggestion.
I'm sorry, Commissioner Shea. go ahead.
One, I should think we could include in the rfp provisions for some kind of payment for a third-party evaluation of whatever the requirements are. You were mentioning some legal or professional standards or something that need to be evaluated for the independent clinic, have that be part of the rfp. And I also don't think that we should tie the hands of the rfp by dictating that it would have to be in-network. Why don't we leave that open-ended and see if we get -- ask for all takers. Bring us your best proposal, in-network, out of network, but don't insist from the get-go that it have to be in-network. Ask the market to bring us what they can.
2:52 PMSo that would be a suggested amendment to the motion that's before us.
Yes.
Second.
That's not procedurally what's happening here. That would have to be adopted by --. Robert's rules of order is how we proceed here, commissioner.
Okay.
The motion on the table is to have -- direct staff to go back and put together a proposal to engage mark on a pilot for building in a bundled surgical procprocedure piece into our network. The suggestion is that mark work on -- along with our staff -- a pilot to look at a bundled surgical center option whether it's in-network or not.
2:53 PMOkay.
And I don't know if bundling is the sticking point there, but have the language be worded in such a way that it allows for the greatest amount of creative responses.
That's --
I do not accept that proposed amendment, because again, my concern is that we create two different networks.
I thought you just said that you were --
Substitute --
In or out of network.
I did not.
I would offer a substitute motion.
So we have a substitute motion to -- for staff to engage mark on a request for proposal for a bundled surgical center irrespective of whether it's in-network or not made by Commissioner Shea and seconded by Commissioner Daugherty.
2:54 PMAnd I want to be careful that I understand the legal meaning of a bundled surgical center. Mark, or shannon, i'm going to need -- or maybe barbara -- i'm going to need some guidance on this. Staff, mark, shannon, barbara. Anyway, is the word bundled, does that mean that it would have to be part of uhc? That's what I don't want to tie the hands on with this rfp. So I don't want to include the word bundled if it has a state of art or legal meaning that would require that it be part of the uhc.
When you say uhc, i'm assuming you're referring to the network. Uhc is just our tpa.
I'm referring to the network.
Yeah, so uhc manages our network.
I'm referring to the network. I just don't want to have language in my substitute motion that negate what i'm trying to do. I want the motion to be directing staff to do an rfp that gives us the greatest flexibility on considering proposals for these less expensive surgical options.
2:55 PMCan I ask you a question, just a clarification question?
Sure.
We're not trying to exclude -- you wouldn't be trying to exclude any bundled service provides just because they are out of the network. You just want to look at the whole -- everyone. But something that might be favorable is if they are in-network or united healthcare agrees to bring them in-network, which would put them under the umbrella. Am I following that?
I want the language in the rfp to give us the greatest number of choices. And when the Judge Restated my substitute motion and used the word bundled, i'm simply seeking guidance to understand if that would limit some of the options, if they would have to be 'bundled. '
2:56 PMBundled just --
I don't want that language if it would limit us.
Bundling would refer to how it is reimbursed, not in our out or t of network.
You just want the most nextaflexibility we can have, whether it's in-network, out-of-network, let somebody bring the best deal that they could bring to us.
That is the intent of my motion and I just didn't want the term bundling to limit it if it had some legal meaning.
No.
Okay. i'm good with that language, then. All
All right. so we have a motion to explore including a bundled pricing surgery center model inside network. Then we have a substitute motion to explore a bundled pricing surgery center model irrespective of whether it's in-network or out of network.
2:57 PMCorrect. that's my substitute.
So this next vote is is -- a yes on the next vote is to take the substitute motion first, all right? So those who are in favor of taking the substitute motion first, raise your hand.
Doesn't make any difference. [ chuckling ]
Okay. and i'm sorry, Commissioner Shea, i'm assume your hand was up.
It was.
All right. so, this next vote is whether or not you are in favor --
Judge.
2:58 PMYes. [ off mic ]
We're opposed to taking the substitute motion first. So this next vote is on the substitute motion to direct staff to work up the appropriate arrangements with mark for the development of an rfp to include bunda bundled pricing surgery center model in our of offerings to our employees whether it's in network or out of network. All those in favor?
Say that again? because I thought we had already voted on the substitute motion.
We voted to take the substitute motion up first. That was a procedural vote. This is the substantive vote on the substitute motion.
Now we're voting on it.
Right.
2:59 PMGot it.
The substitute motion is to direct staff to work up an appropriate arrangement with mark for an rfp to include bundled pricing surgical center option to our employees whether in network or not. All those in favor? And Commissioner Shea, i'm assuming your hand is up.
Yep, i'm waving it.
Yes.
I just don't see her on the screen. And those opposed? And again, I am only -- i'm not opposed to the model, i'm opposed to it being a separate network.
And i'm not resisting change. I just think that when we went back to the administrative operations subcommittee to look at this issue, that it seemed reasonable that in order -- that there was a way to attach this proposal to our existing network and that it was because of the reasons that have already been said here, and I won't repeat them. I won't prolong the argument. But just to explain that i'm not resisting change. I saw the value of employees saving money. But I was -- and i've got my answer today about the risk that employees will take. And obviously we're going to deal with very low-risk surgeries and low-risk conditions that employees want to address. But I do think that we need one network to continue with the claims and all the paperwork and everything, you know, that was needed. But that's okay. I think we'll go through the process and see what we find out.
3:00 PMThis'll be a good exploration.
Judge, just to piggyback on what y'all are saying, at the end of the day what I hope to see is some type of evaluation model that kind of tells us, you know, if you can choose from whomever, what happens with those who go through our network, what happens with those who use uhc versus others. And if we can put a side-by-side comparison, we can actually really look and see ultimately what we've got.
3:01 PMThat would be a very valuable pilot, but that's not what we just voted to do.
Well, I think that we said we would open it up to another. And what i'm saying is let's see what we get as we've opened it up to another. Now we can compare those who are within and those who are without that participate.
Let me go back to that. one moment, though. What you're suggesting is that we do an evaluation of the performance.
Yes.
The rfp will not have performance to evaluate. The rfp will be suggested performance that could be achieved, which is wonderful. And I think we should certainly look at that.
3:02 PMI get it. so as whatever it is we put together --
What I had suggested before was that we do a pilot where we suggested that we selected specific surgeries that do have a tendency to be low-risk and then compare the results and then fold our bundled surgical model in ot over time. But that's fine. We've voted and it's time to move on to the next thing, I think.
I'm good --
Before we move on, I think the other thing that we will get is we will be able to compare the cost of doing something out of the network as well, won't we? So we can kind of compare what we have now and what we would have, additional costs. Yeah.
And I just wanted to remind the court that this item will come back in a couple of weeks with modification of the contract, which would include cost so that mark could help us with that rfp.

3:03 PMSo that will come back in a couple of weeks to the court.
Wonderful. let's take up 12.
Thank you.
Consider and take appropriate action regarding the scope of work for the energy savings performance contract proposal at travis county jail facilities. We've got a couple of different proposals. Staff has a recommendation in regard to which proposal to go forward on. I believe that from a policy standpoint, all of this looks very good. The sticking point is probably on the issuance of certificates of obligation. Is that a fair statement? I'm trying to speed us along, because we've got large items today.
There's two different options. Option two is an expanded scope that provides more resiliency and does a chilled water plant. And then ultimately we can talk about the financing options.