Travis County
Texas

Agenda Item
23581

Consider and take appropriate action on a license agreement with Sterling Events Hospitality, Ltd. to operate the cafeterias located at the Ned Granger Building, Heman Marion Sweatt Courthouse, and Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center. (Commissioner Daugherty)

Information

Department:CC Agenda requestSponsors:
Category:General Government

Meeting History

Feb 11, 2020 9:00 AM Video Commissioners Court Voting Session
draft Draft

Members of the Court heard from:

Paul Hopingardner, Executive Director, Technology and Operations

MOTION: Approve Item 28, with discussed amendments.

MOVER: Brigid Shea, Commissioner

SECONDER: Gerald Daugherty, Commissioner

Clerk’s Note: The Court did not Vote on the Standing Motion at this time.

Transcript

Feb 11, 2020 9:00 AMVideo (Windows Media) MP4 VideoCommissioners CourtVoting Session

 
9:52 AMWrong, they know the process, but they also know we don't have a centralized function and so they went looking and went ahead and applied. Irrespective of what the budget guidelines say, they now how we actually operate which is to say we don't have a central grant office.
So they went out and found them.
9:53 AMThey didn't do anything wrong. They should have let us know the budget office and the county attorney's office, but they did talk about it openly in the census coordination. So we just need to come up with a -- as Commissioner Travillion stated, we need to come up with a way to better support this kind of hunt for grant money.
And they did let us know. it's just the timing was such that we couldn't get everything necessary on the agenda in time before it was submitted, but they did let us know.

9:53 AMAll in favor? that passes unanimously. Commissioner Shea, have you gotten anything back on agenda item number 28.
I have and i'm ready to make a motion with some amendments.
28 is consider and take appropriate action on a license agreement with sterling events hospitality to operate the cafeterias located at the ned granger building, heman marion sweat courthouse and blackwell thurman criminal justice center.
9:54 AMAnd I will move approval of a couple of amendments.
Second.
We have a motion by Commissioner Shea, seconded by Commissioner Daugherty. What are the amendments?
One is under section 26. 4, just to stipulate the licensee will not use styrofoam products of any kind. I want to applaud sterling on many, many levels. They've done great work at the expo center. I'm they would they are able to step in on this contract and provide '-they've provided a menu with what looks like a lot of healthy food options for our cafeterias and the courthouse and the granger building. But I just want to have a stipulation in their contract that says that. So that's section 26. 4. And 26. 5 to spell out in particular I think it currently says we'll comply with the federal clean air act, but specifically section 608 with respect to tracking and managing refrigerants. And we're doing that internally within the county. The more we can stipulate this in contracts with vendors, it calls attention to the fact that refrigerants are the most destructive greenhouse gas by a mile. There are 1,000 to 9,000 more destructive than carbon dioxide. So any methods we have to call attention and stipulate they have to pay attention to refrigerants and not just recharged refrigerant systems whenever, you know, they need it. When you have to recharge it, it means you've got a leak. Anything that's got a refrigeration component and obviously food service and food preparation does have refrigeration combined with it. That's 26. 5. Just telling out licensee will comply with federal clean air act and respect to tracking and managing refrigerants. Paul, I forwarded to you, there was scrivener stuff, making sure some of the numbing was consistent. And something about a dumpster.
9:56 AMYes, I spoke with roger el khoury. He is working with the county attorney's office to make modification based on the email you sent me. And I think we need to wait until this afternoon perhaps for a vote because I believe it has to be signed to come back as approval.
Just as a general note, not specific to this agenda item, I would prefer to steer clear of drafting contracts from the dais.
Same here and I wouldn't do it except staff said we can't wait. I had said all these things from the dais, previously said I would like these in the contract. There was no opposition to it. There was notice. My staff has been in communication. The staff at the county that are charged with our climate action plan, which this is a component of, didn't even see the contract until late. We'll need to have a process that enables us to have better coordination in the future.
9:57 AMLet's take a look at that because the agenda item has been on the commissioners court agenda for two weeks. So we'll go back in and see what the hangup was in terms of getting these specific edits before the appropriate staff.
> i'm not interested in finger pointing. I think we can add these easily and if you bring it back this afternoon we should be able to take care of it today.
I'm very much interested in the process to make sure we don'tnd up here -- I share the same concerns we should have a better process in place. As i've talked before making sure at the beginning of each one we identify all the stakeholders and whether they are consulted in those things. We'll be moving through that process discussion to make sure we don't have issues like this.
9:58 AMWe'll table the item, but do we need some more discussion? We have more time this morning than we do this afternoon. So if there's more discussion on this item, we should have it now.
No, I mean I think they have exemp exemplified they're willing to do whatever it takes. I think it's something we probably can get done, bring it back before we break for lunch or whatever. Occasionally, these kind of things do crop up on us. Some things have a short fuse. There are items that pop up where you go, if this is going to close, what are you going to do in the interim until something gets put in place. And so -- however you want to handle it, judge.
9:59 AMWe will table the item for now for staff to do a little bit more work. If it can come back this morning, we have more time this morning than we will this afternoon. But if it needs to come back this afternoon, that can be accommodated as well. We'll table this item for now.
Thank you.
Next, let's go to agenda item number 19. 19 is to consider and take appropriate action on the fy2021 budget guidelines.
Good morning, county executive, planning and budget. And we've got travis gatlin and ellen miller. And I believe there are pbo -- in the audience. We will be presenting you today with the fy2021 budget guidelines. The guidelines set the framework for the budget process. This year is the first year, as you know, that we'll be under senate bill 2, which reduces what used to be called the rollback rate. The presentation itself follows the guidelines that are in your backup. These guidelines were sent out by travis last week to all elected and appointed officials, as well as department heads and financial staff. Timing actually also allowed us to present this information to the compensation committee. And we are currently looking for opportunities to have smaller group sessions with elected officials to let them know a lot of the information that's in here. And given sb2 and concerns on future years and our fiscal flexibility. This slide walks you through the main like to go over, but we would invite everybody to read the guidelines and begin a conversation with our office on how best to pivot the budget process from looking at it as an annual process to really looking at it as a two to three-year opportunity to plan further operations. So, the first slide on the economic outlook, as you know we're continuing a steady economic outlook right now. Nevertheless, we continue to believe that there are clouds on the horizon and that we need to make sure we are planning from a financial perspective for any midterm economic downturns because of sb2. Particularly, we don't have the latitude to not plan conservatively for those possibilities. The legislative update, sb2, sb2, sb2. It really was the big takeaway, or the major change that came out of the last legislative session. For those that don't know what sb2 is, it is -- basically, it limited our ability to set a tax rate higher than 3. 5% above the effective maintenance and operations rate. That used to be 8%. We were very mindful of tax policy at travis county and didn't hit that 8%. We came close to it -- I believe we hit it once, came close to it two other times. All three dime -- times in the last 30 years were during major economic downturns, which is why we're planning conservatively for the future to make sure that since we don't have that lever, that we are prepared as best we can be.
10:02 AMIf we included this past year, it would have been twice in 31 years.
10:03 AMI forgot this past year was a bit odd, given sb2 that was being approved. So. I'll turn it over to travis.
Our 30-year average above effective maintenance and operations rate is 3. 94%, well above -- below half what the 8% rollback rate was previously. Our ten-year average is 3. 84%. That even includes going to the 8% for 2020.
Both of those rates are above the 3. 5.
That is correct. moving on, i'd like to go over what we call our budget considerations, our cost drivers. And so we believe we're going to get $30. 2 million of new resource this is year based on all the assumptions that we're going to outline. Our budget considerations are 37. 1. That's a little bit over a $6 million difference. The reason we can bridge that shortfall is the commissioners court for fy20 set aside money and prefunded a number of items. I'll walk you through that. First is compensation of benefits. There is an across the board increase for classified employees. There is an annual step increase for those on the peace officer pay scale. There's also a working group making adjustments to the peace officer pay scale to make some internal adjustments to where each step could be 2. 5% between each step along the scale. And there's likely going to be some market adjustments for law enforcement employees as well. We do have those fundings set aside in our planning parameters. We've set aside resources for health benefits, retirement increases. Typically retirement when the stock market does well, which it has done this past year, sometimes the rate actually stays the same. But this would be year three of paying for a ten-year amortization of a retiree cola from several years ago. For planning purposes, we're setting aside resources. There's also resources for facility operating expenses. All of that 1. 6 million is reserved in this year's budget in preparation for these things. These items include moving the probate court to the new historic federal courthouse, opening a new tax office building. And there's also -- yeah, I believe that's it. We set aside money for the bcp transfer at waller creek. As jessica mentioned, we would like to set aside the incremental increase for the bcp transfer in the general fund allocated reserve and earmark it rather than send it over in the transfer. The transfer amount is roughly $20 million for fy20. That would remain the same as we would propose for the 2021 preliminary budget. We have $5. 7 million, mostly related to the public defender grant match and indigent attorney fees, and some justice-related items. If you want specifics, i'm happy to go in details. We have tech operating costs, new parks, which includes opening the bee creek sports complex, other priorities and pilot programs, and last, a new civil district court is coming online in October of next year and we did set aside resources in this year's budget so we would not be scrambling to find that money in our first year of revenue cap. The commissioners court did a lot of thoughtful planning to make this an easy landing. Last year at this time we thought we would have a $6 million deficit under the 3. 5% revenue cap. Had we not gone to the higher rollback rate and reserved the fundings, we would have that $6 million deficit that we discussed last year. Moving on for the financial forecast, we have found that it's not driven by a single issue or cost driver. Some of it it's population driven, some of it's service demand increases, workforce investments. The court has always said to us that we want to make sure that workforce development investments are in a sense set aside and prioritized at the early stage of the budget process so there'll be consistent resources there. And we have done that for the 2021 planning parameters. Often new or expanded programs or improved service deliveries or mandates can impact our cost drivers in local, state, and economic conditions as well. I would just like to highlight that moving forward, for all the assumptions in our forecast and for future tax rates, we are going to be using the voter approval rate, the 3. 5% rate. There's always been discussions with commissioners courts each year about what tax rate to use. Typically it's at or near the effective maintenance operations rate, but enough to cover cost drivers. This year we're just going with that rate. I think it makes it easier for plannin processes. But unfortunately, if some of these cost drivers are higher than we thought, we don't have any flexibility to change the tax rate to generate new resources. So that's going to be the challenge moving forward. Just briefly on our assumptions, this year we grew 8. 8%. That was the first time in over five years the county tax base did not grow in double digits. We had 5. 1 billion in new construction, a record. The previous year was a bit under five. We don't anticipate that's sustainable in the future. But it's also important to note at the 3. 5% voter approval rate, new construction is one of the key drivers that gives us new resources. In those years where we have less resources, new construction is going to have a significant impact on our budget. Or if there's a downturn where projects are stopped or new projects not added in the pipeline, it's likely we'll feel those effects for a number of years until we get back to normalized. We are using 2. 5 billion rather than the average. It's early in the budget process. We are the first people that present these forecasts. We've had discussions with the appraisa district. But at this time, it's so early on, we want to be very conservative. What we don't want to have happen is that we would project a higher new construction value, work through the preliminary budget and then those resources are not there and we have to make reductions to balance the budget. So we're -- that process has been slow and incremental. We'll make adjustments if we need to. But these are the numbers we're using for this forecast. Next, I want to highlight how we've grown in the past, which is historical values. In 2016 we grew 14%. A little bit over 13. And then a little over 10 for '18 and '19, past year, 8. 8, the first year we have not had double-digit numbers. The 30-year average is 7%. It is greater than our average over 30 years, but it has less than it has been during what we would call the boom times. And moving forward you can see how the values flatten out, using that 2. 5% growth. There is some softening in some of the urban areas of austin where areas aren't quite growing what they have been. There's also new legislation that May result in some flatter values moving forward, at least for the foreseeable future. Next, I want to highlight how the county has grown. As we've been doing these financial forecasts, we talk about how the county base budgets have grown over the past years. When we first started, they were growing 6% a year. The county has been driving that growth to a slower rate. This past year for the 2020 budget process, the previous ten years was 5. 15% compared to that 6 the past. But now we did grow a little bit more than we had, in preparation for sb2 and our ten-year growth rate is 5. 53%. So what we did was we took our ongoing base budgets and projected if they could continue to grow at 5. 53%, our ten-year compounded growth rate, what that would look like. It started from 2021, we would be at $742 million, which is what we're projecting for next year up to 911 million. But because of revenue caps, those areas in red would be resources that you've historically had access to based on priorities that the commissioners court, you think these items are so important that they need to be funded, you won't have access to those. We will never have a deficit. We will always balance our budget within available resources. But those are programs or initiatives or new things that you have historically done in the past that you won't have access to for revenue. We have to grow at 4. 3% rather than the 5. 53 in order to stay within those green areas of available resources. And these will reset every year and we'll keep changing the assumptions moving forward. But I wanted to highlight the impact, especially the farther out you go because of compounding. That $33 million resource you had access to is what sb2 is about and the pain as far as we figure things out. And the rate i'm using is the 3. 5% voter approval rate. I want to acknowledge dan and the county auditor's office. I work hand in hand with him on these forecasts. Looking back, they have been pretty accurate. I just want to recognize his work and his help for this. Next, I want to just highlight -- each year we're going to get 30 to $36 million. I focused on 2022 to 2025 because those are the areas where we're going to start to see the impact of sb2. The red area in this chart is the same red area in the previous chart. The previous chart had the $33 million resources, or 36 that we didn't have access to, that's what's shown on this red here. And then I just wanted to build up what the budget could look like over the next five years based on your past priorities. Workforce development is a key component of that. And so that's going to range between 17. 2 to 19. 25 million over that forecast period. And so it does appear that we can add workforce investments into our budget. I would add, even at the 8% rollback rate, there were a number of years where there was no compensation, either for rank and file or p. O. P. S. , or both. And so the assumption is that I suspect at some point there will be years, depending on the circumstances, where we will not be able to have compensation. But for planning purposes I wanted to show what that would look like. We won't be able to grow the number of to fte that we have in the past. I'm assuming compensation will grow at 2. 25. If we grew it at 5%, in eight years, that would be $30 million. If we grew it at 5% and added more resources and staff, then that would take up, in a sense, almost all the resources we're getting every year. So we just need to be cautious about growing at that 4. 3% rate. Maintenance, this could be indigent attorney's fees, maintaining -- keeping the lights on, incremental increases to utility costs, things that we do that are changing just because we have to do more because we maybe have more people to serve. And those range between 5 to 5. 5 million over the forecast period. Interlocal agreements are primarily with the city, increasing around 2. 5 to 2. 7 million a year. That's a critical item we need to keep an eye on. Next is the tidc grant match. There's a civil attorney pilot that's connected to the criminal attorney pilot that's included in the tidc grant match. We're proposing that we would fund 3. 5 million from 2022, 2023, and 2024 because in 2024, the county will be sharing 50% of the cost for the first six months, but the second six months of that year we'll be responsible fully for the program. We want to prepare for that and make sure that we fund that in advance, just in the event there's any economic downturns or challenges, that we'll be ready to fully implement that program based on -- commissioners court. Last, I wanted -- the blue line represents how much money we have left for everything the county would want to do. That could be new courts, new programs, expansions, different things. That's a very small piece. It'll get a little bit bigger at the end because we're going to finish the grant match in 2024. That could open up a small window. We need to think about, as we're implementing new programs or initiatives, strategically think about when there's opportunities for expansion. At least by looking at this there could be a small amount of additional resources, possibly. Keep in mind that workforce development, all these other program areas could grow at higher rates than what we're projecting right now. And the red would be just areas of revenue that are no longer available to the county to fund those priorities, as the county has grown in the past. Our ten-year average is $32 million of new resources but our five-year average is 38 million. We are getting less resources than we have been in the recent past. I'm happy to answer any questions you might have on this slide.
10:16 AMDo y'all want to go through the whole presentation and then swing back around, or do you want to go piece by piece? This is a lot. This sand art is a very important slide. [ laughing ]
10:17 AMI did have a question. and I have a note. I don't know if this is still germane, that there is a little bit of revision -- minor revisions. Is that still necessary with regard to the --
The re-submission of the backup. There were minor revisions. Travis will walk you through that once we get through the presentation, if that's what you're referring to.
It was minor wordsmithing. we shared comments with the department heads, the civil courts just requested minor clarifications in the wording. It's really almost like a scribner'ses error. It has been incorporated into the final backup you have before you. Okay. This is the challenges ahead. I want to req mys recognize we have lot of tools and strategies. I'm sure there's more that we'll be compiling based on everyone's feedback. But as I mentioned, we've got growth slower than in the past. Continue to focus on using on going resources for ongoing requirements. Innovation, bcp transfer, brief discussion on interlocal agreements, lease guadeloupe revenue, jail energy savings project opportunities, retiree healthcare policies, full cost recovery, in-depth target review and continue to prefund large budget items. Just quickly as I mentioned, the ten-year growth rate has been 5. 5. We need to grow 4. 3% to stay within the resources. We immediate need to focus on using ongoing resources for ongoing requirements. When we do fund things that aren't fully funded in that year, we fund the remaining amount. It's a strong budget practice these made the transition into this year about as smooth as we could possibly make it. Innovation, one of our county's guiding principles is innovation. But we don't necessarily recognize it as much as we should. We May want to consider working groups or annual awards to encourage that. We will need to rethink current processes. There's a lot of that already happening. We have some consultants looking at processes in the tax office, purchasing, and other places. Find more efficiencies. One example is the jail population review committee. There's probably other areas to look at with that.
10:19 AMOn your screen is our bcp transfer. We operate a regional permit with the city of austin. And what we were able to do two decades ago is develop a wildly successful financial model. So I applaud the commissioners court for that. And right now as travis mentioned we have a current transfer of 19. 9, nearly $20 million. And so we have gathered together with tnr and the county attorney and we have some additional work to do. In October of 2019, the bcp coordinating committee voted to extend the permit past the 2026 current end of that permit and to make some administrative changes to update the planned and the associated interlocal agreement. I believe the commissioners court approved the same approach in november. What we're recommending is to set aside what we believe will be the increase in the transfer. It's been growing at about a million, a little bit less than a million a year. We would like to set that aside, just the implemental million aandearmark it and allow for the time to do that additional work and stay true to the permit and its intent. The next slide should be . . .
10:21 AMWe've got roughly $25 million budgeted for inter-locals for fy2020, based on the approved agreements. Again, over the forecast period we think that's going to continue to grow between 2. 5 and $3 million. Our eight-year average is 2. 7 million a year. Some years it's been more, some less. As we are discussing these challenges with sb2 and how we can prioritize resources, the city and other entities are as well. And as we talk about full cost recovery for services we provide on behalf of other entities, it's likely the city's going to have having those discussions as well. We wanted to highlight this is one of the big ticket items in our budget. It's imperative that the city and county work together on these items and see how they can be more sustainable over time for both parties. And I would mention that the city does pay the county or central booking, and that's $6. 6 million of revenue. That's part of that money that's coming in. If for whatever reason that had to stop, rather than having $30 million of new resources, we would have about 7 million less than that. So that's a big deal. That's something that's a risk. That's one of our items we watch carefully, given the size of it.
10:22 AMSo as you recall, we negotiated a successful ground lease. What's not on this chart is the initial revenue that we received from that ground lease, about 13 million that we used to de-pedefease the debt. This provides a good snapshot of the revenue going forward. And the court wanted to match up that associated expense with -- or to help with the expenses associated with a civil and family courts complex. We moved about 460,000 to the debt service fund. What we'll be looking at in future years, because we know there'll be maintenance and operation costs associated with a new civil family courthouse, we'll be looking at matching that up on the general fund side because we have limitations on the general fund side we'd like to talk to you about in the future. That might help us in future years.
10:23 AMNext is the energy save --
Before we move on, I want to underscore that last slide. This is one -- if you can go back to the amount of revenue that we'll be getting each year from this 308 guadeloupe lease, I think this was an incredibly smart and prudent action by the county to hang onto that valuable downtown property and to go to the market and say what is this worth, and what proposals do you have for us. And we got back several very creative proposals. And we picked the one that maximized the revenue to the county over time. And so this is a way of off-setting and in the case of revenue caps, making up for a loss of revenue for county services. And I think it's really worth underscoring this because to me, this was a very smart and very prudent strategy that the county undertook. And it's one that we're looking to replicate with the palm school site as well. Keep the land in the county ownership, protect the historic buildings, but see what the market would produce in terms of value for the land and to the county and their citizens.
10:24 AMThank you for underscoring that, Commissioner Shea. As stated, we dedicated the revenue from 308 guadeloupe to our civil and family courts project over time. And there will be maintenance and operations costs. If we take this just as an example -- and it's a good example, but it isn't exactly the same value as palm school -- we do see that on a ground lease of palm school it could bring in $2. 5 million annually on a 99-year ground lease, dedicated to health and human services at a time when we are trying to -- very much trying to find about $5 million ongoing increase in health and human services for the next three years. We punted that because we could not find the $5 million. This is where we May be able to find it in the future, is in the sale of the ground lease of palm.
10:25 AMJudge, I just want to point one thing out, because I was new to the court at the time this decision was being made. And this decision did not come without a significant amount of criticism. But we listened to our professionals, who told us that this was a forecast that we should be expecting. And it has turned out that just what our professionals told us to expect is beginning to happen. So I think the court took a courageous step and made the right decision that will ultimately benefit the taxpayers for years and years.
10:26 AMThis is one of those alternative revenue sources we were talking about, real estate portfolio revenue, to offset the burden of the property tax.
Okay. next is the energy saving project in the jail. This past year the commissioners court did improve a number of investments in the jail to reduce energy consumption. And so we anticipate that those will generate at least $1. 1 million in savings where we can actually take that money out of the sheriff's office utility budget, maintenance budget, other kind of line items, and we can redirect those to other things. We had originally discussed moving those resources to cover some of the debt service for the project. Given sb2 and that there's no restrictions on savings, we can keep those in the general fund now. For 2020 we sent over $270,000 of savings to the debt service fund to cover some of the debt service on the initial project. But at this point, i'm hold that 270,000 in the general fund to make some of the numbers work, make sure we can cover the cost drivers for 2021. That would increase over time. The number here are based on the initial implementation. I think they're still implementing some of the project. I don't believe we'll get the full benefit of the million dollars in 2021. But it will be at least 270,000 and that's going to go up over time. There's additional savings that aren't shown here that are more cost avoidance. When utility rates go up, we wouldn't have to pay that increase because we've got lower utility costs. There's two phases of the project. The first was approved last year, replacement -- energy-efficient lighting. There's also some other projects funded with cos. For fy20, the commissioners court during budget markup intended to fund the remaining 10. 3 million of phase two with certificates of obligation. But the court actually approved using some general fund resources to pay for those. We won't have to pay the debt service on phase two of the project. There'll be more savings than we originally anticipated because we're not having to pay the interest on the full project. We really appreciated that. That gave the court some flexibility in our budget moving forward as well, hopefully.
10:28 AMI want to underscore this. this was another innovation. There's so much negative attitude toward government that I think it's important to underscore where we have been nimble and creative, and innovative. And we've done that in this case. The jail a huge user of energy. The electric bills alone are massive. The water bills as well. And so by investing in more energy-efficient and water-conserving systems on the front end, which were expensive on the front end, we're realizing it's a lifetime of energy savings. We have dramatically reduced our electric and water bill at the jail. And again, the taxpayers will reap the benefit of that. And I think it's important to notice it and call it out.
10:29 AMYeah.
I mean, these have not been witnessed yet.
I believe all the lighting is currently being replaced.
I mean, but we haven't witnessed the savings. I mean, we -- with our eyes open.
The benefit of the savings is that it's guaranteed by the vendor. If we do not realize these savings they will actually have to cut us a check. So it is certainly possible, if not probable, certainly, we couldn't get the consultants to commit to more. But it is very likely that the savings could be higher than the 1 million that's projected right here. But the savings of 1. 1 million -- and that's converted into energy for the purposes of the contract -- is guaranteed in the contract. And that's what the performance contract aspect of the contract means.
10:30 AMThat's what's so exciting about this. This isn't speculative savings.
Yep.
This is --
Guaranteed.
Guaranteed savings by the vendor. And thank you very much for championing it, Commissioner Shea.
I'm making a point, I just want to see it happen and I want to see people -- because there are times when you don't get checks cut back. Litigation starts. And it's easier -- we went into it with the right intent on this thing. We're decommissioning 192 beds, closed four buildings. You've got to witness some savings with that. But let's make sure that that doesn't get thrown into this deal about, okay, here's where the savings are when quite frankly -- we just need to make sure that we're doing a really good job of witnessing whether or not this is something that's going to be beneficial.
10:31 AMWe need to fully implement the program, make sure it happens the way we thought. It's likely if it it is successful, we could use this model in other places. The original proposal was over $40 million from the vendor and we spent hours upon hours working with the vendor and with the sheriff's office to get a program that actually made sense that would actually pay for itself. And so we're excited. At the time, we didn't know what was going to happen with sb2. This gives us another lever that we didn't have access to before.
When will we start to know -- is there -- is it the end of the fiscal year this year where we'll first be able to track the savings and the contractual requirement for the vendor?
10:32 AMIt's going to be completed at the end of this fiscal year. We've already started. We removed $270,000 of utility cost in this year's budget in anticipation of the lighting being complete. One of the advantages for the sheriff's office is the old lighting you replace every six months. Some of the lighting is 30 feet in the air. Not only is it the light bulb switching out, but having the person to safely change the light bulb in the air we won't have to do. There's lots of efficiencies in avoiding maintenance and things. And again, we're excited about this one. All these various levers. Last year we mentioned whatever plan we come up with, we don't think you're going to be completely happy because you're not able to prioritize the resources. We're trying to brainstorm on every area we can go to to make this as painless as possible.
10:33 AMHow many buildings are there in del valle, is it 14?
It depends on how you want to count some of the outbuildings they use for training and the like, but of the main facilities out there, there's a good, solid ten that are in use constantly, the larger, every day. Then there's the academy area of training, another ten or so buildings. Those are relatively small and not used for corrections purposes. You're going to be hearing about buildings five through eight later on today related to that item, too, and building nine is associated with that, but they're keeping that one open.
I bring it up because the bad news is our physical plant of the del valle correctional complex is inherently inefficient because it has multiple buildings. So that's the bad hues. News. The good news is we have an adult system master plan that intends to take down the less-efficient buildings and build better buildings that are purpose-built, less traumatizing, more appropriate to rehabilitation and to the more modern and more compassionate view of corrections, and also far more energy-efficient and less costly to operate.
10:34 AMThose new buildings will need the same type of mechanical infrastructure because of the central plan. That's going to reduce -- it's not a huge cost.
I did want to -- if you don't mind, I would like to insert, because we are conservative. We did not account this as actual savings in calculating this, but there's $9 million worth of boilers that we won't have to replace in the next 20 years because of the central plan we're installing. Each building stands on its own with its own boiler right now. Some of the boilers are inefficiently placed. Those are all going to be going away for most of the buildings and replaced by the central plant. It's a long-term investment that the court was very wise to make.
10:35 AMAll right. moving on, retiree healthcare policies. We've discussed this in the past. There's a number of local jurisdictions that have a tenure-based contribution for retiree healthcare that includes the city of austin, lcra, the county currently contributes the same amount regardless of tenure. For right now, that's about 22,000 a year for those retirees under 65 and about 6,000 a year for those 65 and older. The reason for the significant difference for those 65 and older is because medicare is the primary pay-giver. The number has increased by 10% a year. Each year in the cost drivers, one plus $1 million of the new resources are dedicated to new retires that are current employees that are eligible for retiree healthcare coming on the health plan each year. It's also important to kn know in May 2019, 972 employees were eligible to retire with at least eight years of service, including 513 employees that were age 59 or older. That's the target group that's likely in the near term. And the last of the baby boomers turned 65 in 2029. The baby boomers are still out there working, but we need to be prepared as they move on and make sure the county is able to continue to provide retiree healthcare that is not in a --
10:36 AMOh my god, i'll be 65 in 2029. [ laughing ]
So what is the strategy -- or what are the strategies? I'm not seeing them so clearly here. Are you --
Discussed with the court in detail last year. But for example, the city has a -- I believe if you work 20 years, it's kind of a max contribution. If you work less than 20 years, it's a stair step down. Right now the county pays about 85% of the retiree portion of healthcare. And so the thought is at least we worked on this, about ten years ago, we're going to revamp it. We would -- we need to look at the market and see what it is. Whatever made sense ten years ago May not make sense in this environment. If we went to a t tenure-based plan, the more you work, the more contributions. I think that makes all the sense in the world. As far as your retirement contributions are based on how long you worked and what your contributions are and they're different for each employee based on what their commitment was to the county. It's something that I think we'll need a year or two to work on. We want to bring it forward and give employees advance notice so they can plan for that, but then set a target date and implement it. We can continue to talk more about that. I think there's -- full cost recovery, i'll talk about that. It's something that we have talked about in the past. I believe within the next two weeks we're going to have a new indirect cost rate coming forward to you that's going to be a little bit less than 20%. It was 36% this previous year. And I know that alan and alex spent a lot of time with our consultant to make sure that the rate is appropriate in capturing all of our costs that we would be using. We expect to revise the rates that we would want to charge for school resource officers, law enforcement dispatch and security. There's things that we want to work with the medical examiner's office on as well. That's a lot. This is new item. We're doing our best and moving as quickly as possible. This May be something we May need some more outside resources on. We've had initial discussions. We haven't found a lot of expertise in some. All the help we need. We want to -- we'll be working closely with departments on this. As the Judge Mentioned earlier, 87% of our resources are property taxes. The remaining 13% are fine and fees set by statute. So there's not a lot of wiggle room. For the part the commissioners court has true control over -- last year I thought it was around 2 or 3% -- we've got to do everything we can to maximize that and make sure that the amounts that we're charging other jurisdictions are appropriate. I'll end it with that. There's a lot of work we need to do. Alex braden is our lead on that. I want to thank him for all he's doing.
10:39 AMOur target budgets as you saw on the slide that included cost drivers is $705 million. When we talk about the $37 million in incremental funding, your budget office pays attention to the $705 million as well as the reserves and everything that goes into the budget. What we'd like to do in light of sb2, I think it's incumbent on us to do this, is to even take a further deeper dive into those target budgets. We're not proposing this for the fy2021 2021 budget process, but for fy2022. In the meantime we would like to prototype and probably use ourselves, our budget as an example to provide the court with some differing views, what I think of as more dashboard-type information in the black book writeups. That is a book that's pretty thick. I know they've gone electronic. But if you were to print it out it's pretty thick. We want to make sure that you have the information that you need in future years if we are needing to look at where to prioritize, especially in light of strategic planning efforts that will hopefully be under way here soon. We want to make sure you're well-positioned for those discussions. Every year we look at vacancies patterns, at spend patterns. This would involve a greater emphasis on those. There's a new budget rule that was implemented this year that goes into effect April 1st for vacancies that are over a year. We look at vacancies that are 120 days or more in the budget process and we'll continue those efforts. Just wanted to preview this so when we talk about it later in the summer and going into next year you know what we're talking about and departments are aware of what our intent is, which is really mainly to provide the information in a more easily digestible way. We've started that process with mandated versus discretionary information. It's just a continuation of that look.
10:41 AMOkay. next is talking about prefunding large budget items. The cost drivers in the budget are 37. 1 million. We're only getting 30. 8 million in new resources. The reason we're able to bridge the difference is because we prefunded the new civil district court in advance. We prefunded expenses for the probate court moving, including maintenance. We have that in this year's budget in preparation. The same for the new tax office building. I knew there was a third one, north campus. I didn't remember it earlier in the presentation. That was the third thing we prefunded. We have a $2. 3 million lease ha we funded in this year's budget with some transitional cost as well. And also some security cost in there. We also did remove from the sheriff's office budget six law enforcement deputies related to the manor isd school resource officer contract. That contract is ending this year. So we did remove the expenses on that and will be working with them on a transition plan to make sure that those six employees continue to be employed and just move into new positions until some law enforcement positions are freed up. And we did discuss the 308 guadeloupe revenue. We need to make sure we've got a plan for that for 2021. Then we are planning to keep the energy savings projects, at least the 270,000, hopefully more, in the 2021 budget and re-prioritize that to other needs. I think the biggest thing is going to be with the strategy, we need to prefund items earlier. I believe it was Commissioner Shea this past year recommended that we did have some leftover funding for compensation, that we hold those in this year's budget in preparation for 2021. Another reason we can bridge that gap is because we set aside money in this year's budget. We're prioritizing that to benchmark. We'll likely get certified value in august, publish the preliminary budget in late july, based on a conservative estimate. In the event that new construction comes in higher than 2. 5 bilion there could be more resources to the court. The challenge is going to be, as you consider whatever those critical items are for 2021 and think about items for 2022, I would recommend you hold all or most of that back, not for new initiatives, but basic items. This is a new environment and we're moving into something that we haven't lived through before. We would urge caution on that. The difference between the $2. 5 billion new construction and 4. 5 billion is only about $6 million. I don't want to downplay the significance of $6 million, but when we have over a $100 million budget that is not a huge difference. Over 800 million for the general fund. So that 6 million is very critical. We have to be really cautious on how we use that. If that comes in at that and there's no guarantees. There's been many years we have had new construction less than $2 billion. I just don't think that's sustainable. I don't know when it's going to change. There's not any indicators. I can look at my window and I counted 13 cranes just looking north. South I see similar. But we can't guarantee that's going to be there for us to continue. But these are a lot of initiatives. This is going to make the transition better than most jurisdictions. It's going to be tough, but we're well prepared, as much as we can be.
10:45 AMCommissioners, questions? budget preparation guidance.
The last two slides, very brief. The budget preparation guidance starts on page 19 for departments. We will be putting out a budget manual that gives them much more detailed information, for those that are interested. So I would ins invite them to read the entire guidelines, but also look at page 19 for the budget preparation guidance which will be very similar to what you've seen in past years, the review of vacant positions, looking internally. It will be, I think, a more strict recommendation on any new ftes. We've really tried to focus on piloting projects first and proving up the results of any new programs or different ways of executing our programs. And we would encourage departments to really take advantage of that as well. With the budget calendar, the dates that are up here are pretty well-set. I believe the employee public hearing that's under tbd here is currently on all of your calendars for May 21st. We will get hr to help us get the message out once we've triple confirmed that is the date we want to use. I will say -- because I think it's important -- that the budget guidelines state that we are assuming there will not be an election on the tax rate this year. And I think in future years, if it is the will of the commissioners court to start looking at items that you believe need to go out to the electorate that we need to have those conversations very early. I would invite you to have those conversations with us in february. I think i've shared with you, and i'll get barbara to give her approval, if we were to go forward on an election it's a very tight calendar. And it's a very earl calendar. And so I just want to be very upfront that we are not assuming that we would go above the voter approval rate of 3. 5% in these guidelines. And we will test that again with you in june, but we really need to have those conversations now. So that is the end of that. I should say budgets are due April 20th. Please -- that date as well.
10:48 AMAnd also we're not asking for any budget reductions to balance the budget this year. Those could be needed in the future. But for the near term we're not asking for any. That's an important message that we send employees.
Judge.
Commissioner Travillion.
Just to follow up on a comment or discussion we had earlier, i'd like to hear your thoughts about a grants office, whether you think it would be beneficial, where you think it ought to be located organizationally, and then staffing. I mean, as we look forward and think about things that are priorities, that might be difficult for us to fund, how do we go about the process of finding alternative funds that fit our budget model?
So I came up earlier to address that point, and i'll just say I believe that we need a grants policy. And that is on my work plan to do. And I think that grant policy will set the foundation for what types of grants you're talking about. Because, recall, a very successful grant that we're undertaking right now, which is the public defender office. We're very grateful that we have 50% funding for the next several years to accommodate that new program. At the end of that program we, travis county, will be fully responsible for that program. So it's kind of like the pilot programs. It is a very important piece of how we look at expanding programs or doing things in innovative ways. But we need to be very -- also mindful that it needs to fit in within -- and I think the Judge Made this point earlier -- within our purview of programmatic issues that we feel strongly about. And i'm very grateful that the strategic planning efforts that will be under way hopefully in the next several months will also help us set that foundational work.
10:50 AMThe second-to-the-last slide that had the -- I guess warnings about what potential impact we might see from the restrictions of the revenue caps, which I assume would only be much worse if the legislature comes back and reduces the ability to raise revenue to pay for services even further, which they have talked about. But I think it's important for us to find effective ways to communicate the things that we know are coming. So, I will frequently hear from people who want a lot more traffic enforcement on county roads. And we have limited funds for those positions now. We have funded some and they get shifted internally within the sheriff's department to cover whatever needs they have. But the fourth or fifth bullet that says funding for new programs for full-time equivalent positions is greatly limited. We need to find effective ways to communicate that so that people understand this is now in place. So when you come to us and you say, we need more people to, you know, enforce speeding on highway 71, well, we got creative with the constable's office but we simply won't have the flexibility to fund positions for things like that. And I don't know how we tell people that in a way that they get it or hear it. But this is one of the consequences of that action by the legislature.
10:51 AMWell, and that's what I heard loud and cler about funding positions. And so I think that you're either serious about what you said here, or you're not. So we need to know that so we can know where the parameters are to what we do or what we recommend or what we think needs to be done. So i'm taking you seriously.
10:52 AMPlease do. [ laughing ]
And to that note -- we've talked briefly about this at the end of last year. The budget hearing process I project will be very similar to last year. It really needs to be driven by the commissioners court, because there just are very, very limited opportunities for any kind of growth. And it might be that we don't have budget hearings. I don't know yet. But I do know that it will be limited in nature, just like it was last year. And I think prudently last year -- you touched on this already -- the entire court has -- we were very mindful. And I just want to highlight, again, we are -- our cost drivers, which are our main meat and potatoes, priorities in past years, total $37 million and we're only projecting 30 million. And you made up that gap. And we will continue to push you to make up that gap in preparation for next year. And then next year we will continue to tell you we need to prepare, we have the pd office coming online, we have these major investments that we're still 'digesting,' if you will.
10:53 AMAnd I will add, the areas in red are likely the money you have for new programs and ftes or paying for dimen -- compensation increases. The compounding effect with the new initiatives is in the red area.
Let me ask you about that red area. It shows that we are at a legislatively created deficit -- not deficit, a legislatively created lack of capacity of 14. 6 million by 2023.
10:54 AMRight.
From a scheduling purpose, we are not looking to bust the cap in November 2020. We're probably not looking to bust the cap in November of 2021. But are we looking to bust the cap in November of 2023 in order to manage some of what we know is coming?
I don't know. I can take it year by year. This year we've got toiogrow at a slower rate and stay within resources. Whatever new resources we get in for the certification -- I hope it's more than what we anticipate -- we need to hold some of that back, not for new initiatives, but for the basic building blocks of all those things that are in 2022. That $6. 8 million, if we get $6 million this year of new resource from the new construction we hold that back and make up the difference there. We're going to grow a little bit less. We're going to look at efficiencies and do all those things. We're going to do -- the whole thing will reset. It's likely that $6 million shortfall will get pushed into the next year, because we balanced the budget within the resources. And we have to keep pushing that red area to the next year being smaller and manageable and we'll figure out strat strategies how to do that.
10:55 AMIf you were to turn back the clock and the grant wasn't available for the pd office and the court wanted to implement a pd office at travis county, ha type of initiative would likely be the type of thing that you would be talking about, judge. if those types of items that are priorities for the court generate in future years, you will need to have those discussions on what I call, kind of, transformational programmatic changes. We're working on keeping on the lights.
I would add to that, that's in there. In the green row. But we're going from zero in the 2019 budget to needing $15 million by the end of 2025.
10:56 AMWe're very grateful for the grant.
We are excited, but thattess a big driver. That took made the blue areas much smaller.
It's 67 new fte that you're going to need to absorb in that workforce development.
Plus resources for the. mat.
This is what I would ask for a subsequent item before we begin negotiated budget in earnest. I would like the budget office to come up with some triggers that we can -- some high-level -- they don't explain everything. But i'd like four high-level triggers for the commissioners court, basically a dashboard for us to take a look at to know if we tip over this, the probabilities of us having to go to a 3. 5 cap-busting election have now greatly increased. What I would suggest those four triggers be -- and i'm open to other suggestions and y'all would know better than I -- is if our new growth is under x. Because we are presuming a new growth for this coming year. And then a very conservative new growth of 2. 5 over the next five years. But if for some reason -- we know the bubble bursts at some point. So if new growth is under x, whatever y'all think x should be.
10:57 AMNew growth, I would describe that as new construction, because the effective tax rate, if we grow a lot or a little, is going to adjust. It's really that effective and new construction base that's going to really drive resources.
Good refinement.-another is ife bring on new programs over y, whatever that is. Because we're bringing on the public defender's office, that's a big thing. If we grow into new programs that we don't anticipate, I think that that also increases our probabilities of needing to go to a 3. 5-buster. A third one is a compensation increase, workforce development increase over what we expected. I don't know what the tip points should be. I'm looking to you all to find out those tipping points. I would imagine our aggregate ila would be a fourth. If we see our aggregate ila expenses with the city of austin increasing substantially.
10:58 AMThere's room for a fifth. the one that makes me the most nervous is some kind of new mandate whether coming from the state, indigent defense, lawsuit with harris county and changing pretrial practices. It's the big things, it's not the small things, it's the big thing wholesale sea change before we could make some incremental change to the tax rate.
10:59 AMThat would decrease our fees, to an extent?
With regard to -- we're already 87% personal revenue bond. Changes in our procedures would be -- there are some beneficial changes in our procedures, but it probably won't have much of an impact on finances because we already have a very high revenue bond -- I mean a personal bond rate.
That's why I didn't think it would affect us as much as maybe other counties who are utilizing the bail cash much more.
I think --
Much more.
I'm not the expert on this, but I think it's going to depend on some of the conditions with the bond and whether or not the county would be paying for those type of monitoring services and some of those are paid by the defendant right now. And if the county, and I know harris county fully funds those, if we went to that model at some point, that would be a big cross driver for us. That being said, any way we can reduce the jail population is is our biggest single cost driver, just talking about the reserve, there's 2. 1 million that we're able to remove 36 ftes in the sheriff's office, ten in the juvenile population. In the event one of these things happens like that within we need something to continue to keep the jail -- to continue to keep the jail population, we've got resources to be able to do that. We've got to use it for the appropriate purpose, but those big sea change things are the ones that make me the most nervous.
11:01 AMWe'll come up with that dashboard. Again, it won't explain anything but they would be bellwethers to see if we are approaching the rumble strip.
I like that idea. I think it would work. Especially the one about 37. 1 in cost drivers and the 30. 8 in revenue.
Yeah.
If we can just keep that in mind.
And I think that we should prepare politically for the probability that we hit these rumble strips in the November 2222 time period. That's an issue for us. That would be an election year and it's concerning. But I think we should be bending our minds to the probability of a November November 2022 cap buster. Let's prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
11:02 AMAnd just -- I know we've said this before, but we also have a bond program currently we pay for the employees on the general fund side. We open parks, cost drivers on the general fund side. Those are the types of items i'm thinking we need to be talking more and educating the public on that if you would like this new park, there's also a m and o portion of that that helps maintain that. Just as an example.
So before we leave this, I do want to repunctuate what Commissioner Travillion was saying about growing alternative revenue sources. We will look at how we could grow our grants, pursuing grants for good priorities instead of prioritizing to the grant, of course. We also are already looking at and should continue to look at our real estate portfolio. No lazy dirt. Any property that we own either needs to be in current productive public use in providing services or infrastructure or it needs to be sold and -- or ground leased into private sector utilization to generate property taxes. Nothing should be idle and nothing should be underutilized if we own it. Also, we are looking at alternative tax revenues. The hotel occupancy tax, we will continue to explore that with the city so that we can share the benefits of the hotel occupancy tax, and any other resources that we can find that are alternatives to the property tax so that we can diversify our portfolio, as it were, since we are currently at 87% property tax reliant.
11:03 AMJudge, I just have one caveat to the next to the last statement. I think that all of the property should be as productive as it can be; however, there are going to be some parcels that are compatible to affordable housing and potentially some type of land trust system.
11:04 AMAbsolutely.
I just want to make sure that -- where we can, guarantee affordability if it means reserving part of the space that is being developed around it.
Absolutely. the first priority is if the property can be -- can produce public benefit that is among our priorities, absolutely it should be used for that. But if it is being underutilized or has additional capacity beyond that public utilization, we should be making it as productive in the private sector as possible. We'll need it. We'll need that property tax revenue. Anything else?
Great work.
May we live in interesting times.
Generally in the past we've brought this forward and brought it forward the next week. I know this is the last time for the next few weeks we have all five of the commissioners court, so we would be fine of you approving the guidelines.
11:05 AMThat includes updated language based on the feedback in the civil courts.
Do we need to spell it out?
It's in the revised. it's further revised and already in here.
A motion by Commissioner Shea, seconded by Commissioner Travillion to approve the budget guidelines as revised. All in favor? That passes unanimously. Great job, y'all. Thank you so much. A lot to digest. We are at 11:05. What I would like to do is take a couple of executive session items -- actually before you all leave, let's do bats. Budget amendments and transfers, item 17. Consider and take appropriate action on budget amendments, transfers and discussion items. Any questions, comments? I'll take a motion.
11:06 AMMove approval.
Second.
All those in favor? that passes unanimously. Thanks so much. Let's take a couple items in executive session. 42, consider and take appropriate action on the sale, lease or change of palm school or other property in travis county's real estate portfolio and acquisition of property interests in the land underlying the travis county exposition center often other real property. Consultation with attorney and real property exceptions. And also let's take -- which one is it? I'm sorry. 46. Which is to receive briefing regarding special commissioners award concerning the travis county civil and family courts facilities project, travis county versus mcnaturaly, cause number c-1-cv-19- 000028 and authorize county attorney to take appropriate legal action as needed. Consultation with attorney and real property exception. We will return to open court before taking action and have an executive session in the afternoon on a number of other items.
11:44 AMThat was lovely music. I felt like I should do some pirouettes. We are back after a brief executive session. We discussed agenda items 42 and 46. We won't take action on those until the afternoon when we go -- after we go into executive session on a number of other agenda items. Let's go ahead and go to our proclamations before we break for lunch. So let's first do agenda item number 4, approve proclamation recognizing February 2020 as national teen dating violence awareness and prevention month. This is sponsored by Commissioner Daugherty and Commissioner Gomez. Commissioner Gomez, would you like me to read the proclamation?
Go ahead.
11:45 AMY'all come on down and i'll read the proclamation while folks are getting set. Whereas, all young people deserve to be treated with respect; whereas, respectful, supportive and non-violent relationships are key to safety, health and academic success; whereas, teen dating abuse is a significant health issue, with 1 in 10 teens reporting physical or sexual violence from a dating partner; whereas, teens that experience abuse are more likely to abuse drugs, drop-out of school, engage in high-risk sexual behavior, act violently and even attempt suicide; whereas, without the proper support and intervention, young victims are at high risk of becoming victims and perpetrators in adult relationships; and whereas, parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, healthcare providers, clergy, artists, musicians and neighbors in teens' lives have the power to influence youth and help them change their lives in positive ways. Therefore, be it resolved that, travis county commissioners court, do hereby proclaim the month of february, 2020, ' national teen dating violence awareness and prevention month' in travis county and urge residents to join the austin/travis county family violence task force, the safe alliance and texas advocacy project in promoting healthy teen relationships and call upon youth and adults to observe national teen dating violence awareness and prevention month with activities and conversations about respectful and non-violent relationships in their homes, schools and communities.
11:46 AMMove approval.
Second.
Motion by Commissioner Gomez seconded by Commissioner Shea. Is orange the color this year?
Yes. orange is the color.
I didn't get that memo.
Good morning, Judge And commissioners. Thank you, Commissioner Gomez and Commissioner Daugherty for sponsoring our proclamation. It is my pleasure to serve as the chair of the austin-travis county family violence task force. And I would like to introduce a few people to you this morning, specifically, carlos lopez, chair of the men as allies committee for the task force.
Thank you. good morning, judge, commissioners.
11:47 AMGood morning.
She asked me to way orange. all I had was burnt orange. I hope that's okay.
It works.
I was shocked to hear that one in ten students in high school were purposefully slapped, hit, or physically assaulted by their boyfriend and girlfriend, you know. It was just shocking to me that it's that high. So what we did is we -- last time I mentioned the men as allies group. We've done several presentations. Talking young men about healthy relationships and using the equality wheel on what is a healthy relationship. We also use another wheel, which describes what is unhealthy relationship. Because one in four four teens is harassed or abused through technology as well, we include discussions on social media, sexting and cyber bullying. Over 50% of teens experiencing digital abuse are also physically abused. And that's unacceptable. We at the task force believe that in order to end abuse, then we need to start talking to our young folks, young men, young ladies, about healthy relationships and respect now before it's too late. I would like to -- thank you for having me this morning. Thank you for having this proclamation. I would like to introduce our new chair of youth issues at the austin-travis county family violence task force.
11:48 AMGood morning, thank you so much for this platform to discuss national teen dating violence awareness and prevention. As you've heard, this is a public health concern because people who are in relationships with those who are emotionally, physically, and/or sexually abusing them are more likely to experience higher rates of unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, eating disorders, issues with substance use, and even suicidal thoughts and behaviors. It's really important to gain this awareness and come together to work and make our community safer. I work at the s. A. F. E. Alliance in austin. S. A. F. E. 's mission is to stop abuseabuse for everyone. I work with children and teenagers to promote healthy relationships and prevent unhealthy ones as well. I am managing a three-year federal grant from the office of violence against women and the department of justice. And we have partnerships with the family violence task force, travis county sheriff's office, manor police department, and the health and human services office of children's services. And together we're creating a coordinated community response team to make manor teenagers safer. And we're doing that by preventing, intervening, and responding to people who are affected by violence in more efficient and collaborated ways. Thank you so much for this platform. And i'm really excited to hear that we're all joining together to make our communities safer. I would like to introduce major craig smith.
11:50 AMThank you. good morning, Judge And commissioners. Thank you some for sponsor -- so much for sponsoring this very important proclamation. I'm very proud that we can be a part of this endeavor with all of our local law enforcement agencies, as well as all of the advocates and nongovernmental organizations. As you can see behind us, we've got a lot of people this meant something to that wanted to be here today. I want to point out our sro program. When it comes to ending teen dating violence, the sros play a huge part in that role, providing mentoring, education, and a support service for the students that need them. Our sros do a fantastic job in the middle schools, high schools, and partner being all ing with allof the other law enforcemet organizations. We're proud to be a part of this.
11:51 AMThanks so much for being here. All those in favor of the resolution? That passes unanimously. We'll take a photograph with you after we get to our next proclamation. We appreciate all you're doing every day to reduce teen dating violence and intimate partner violence generally.
Thank you.
Thank y'all.
Thank you.
Commissioners.
Next, let's go to agenda item number 5, to approve proclamation recognizing the capital metropolitan transportation authority for reaching the milestone of having provided 1 billion trips. Commissioner Travillion, would you like to read the proclamation?
11:52 AMSure. might need a glass of water to get through this one. [ laughing ]
Okay. and the proclamation states, whereas, the capital metropolitan transportation authority (cap metro) was formed in 1985 to provide public transportation for the people of central texas and has a mission to connect people and communities to jobs and opportunities by providing quality transportation choices; and whereas, cap metro' s vision is to transform the daily lives of central texans by providing a robust, sustainable transportation network; and whereas, capital metro continues to invest in and grow with the community, having grown from 225 vehicles in 1985 to 425 vehicles now, and provided fewer than 8 million rides in our first full year to more than 31 million rides in 2019; and cap metro has reached a milestone at 1 billion rides since its formation 35 years ago; and whereas, in the past year alone cap metro has invested $3 million in bus shelter solar-powered lighting, installed 3,000 feet of sidewalk, and improved both the acquisition and distribution of real-time transit data; and whereas, cap metro has enabled central texans to avoid adding more than 445,000 tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by taking transit instead of driving alone in their cars; and whereas, capital metro implemented the largest change to its bus network in the agency' s history in June 2018, creating a system that is more frequent, more reliable, and better connected; and whereas, the agency' s commitment to regional partnerships has improved the customer experience, working with th city of austin, travis county and the texas department of transportation to open new transit centers at westgate and norwood areas; partnered with aisd to foster a new generation of transit riders through its kids ride free initiative; and cooperating with the central texas regional mobility authority on use of the mopac managed lanes for metro express services; and whereas, the 2,100 cap metro team members - who are the foundation of the agency - exemplify the sense of mission, dedication to continuous improvement and commitment to the customer, which has resulted in increased ridership in 18 of the past 19 months; and whereas, cap metro and its regional partners are building on the strong foundation the agency has laid for project connect, an integral part of the austin strategic mobility plan and a bold vision for how we move people today and plan for tomorrow. Now, therefore, be it proclaimed that we, the travis county commissioners court, do hereby recognize the capital metropolitan transportation authority for reaching the milestone of having provided a billion trips since its formation 35 years ago and urge all public officials and citizens of travis county to raise awareness and celebrate this achievement. February 11, 2020.
11:55 AMMove approval.
I prove approval.
Second.
We have a motion and a second. It's great to have both of you here today.
Thank you.
Thank you.
I'll just say briefly we're grateful for the opportunity to be here, and especially appreciate the chance to partner with the county on so many good projects, the community first project, transportation plan, looking for other opportunities to do that. We're excited about being your tenant and neighbor here short shortly.
11:56 AMYeah, you guys are moving in.
Looking forward to many other opportunities in the future.
Thank you, judge, commissioners, board member travillion, for recognizing the billion rides today. We're very excited about, you know, our ability to connect the community and the billion rides we've had in the last 35 years. We look forward to providing the next rides. We have pins as you see chair cooper wearing today that hopefully you'll like to don and help us celebrate the billion rides.
Now that I have recovered from reading the proclamation, you know, we have sat down and worked together with wa wayne as the chair to talk about equity, to talk about what it takes to include the entire community. That's reflected in the norwood project, for example. I think that is reflected in the additional riders that we have seen in manor because of the changes that have been made out there. I think that we have a number of groups -- round rock, pflugerville, several others -- who are developing transportation development projects with capmetro. So I think that, you know, we have changed the way that we engage the community. We have stopped inviting -- it's not that we've stopped inviting them to our headquarters, but we've started going out to the meetings that the community has and become a part of the community's conversations. And I think that is significant. And I think that is something that is clearly happening because of your leadership, wayne, and the leadership of our new executive director. And I think that is the way to grow the organization, with the community instead of guiding it around the community. So I appreciate all of the changes that have been made and I look forward to meeting the challenges that we're going to face over time.
11:58 AMIt's great to have you all here, also particularly the day after we heard the campo meeting where we were discussing the 2045 plan. Capmetro is such a very important part of the 2045 plan. In 2045 there will be twice as many people as there are here now -- twice as many. And the only way we will be able to move that kind of population from their homes to work and back again, from home to school and back again, is through transit. So capmetro, you are an integral partner to that. It is with deep sadness that I report that the 2045 plan is being crafted in a way that knocks out some of y'all's projects, including the green line, which scored under the 80 points necessary to get into the 2045 plan. Something's got to change at campo.
11:59 AMIt scored under?
We cannot move these people without you. So, thank you for your deep partnership, for having moved a billion people over these past years. There will certainly be a billion trips in the future. Thank you.
Thank you.
All those in favor? that passes unanimously. Let's go down and take a photograph. We'll start with our capmetro people because there's only two of them. And then we're going to go to aly'all. We're going to break for lunch until 1:00. We're going to shorten it up because we are interviewing between 3:00 and 5:00. After we take the photographs, media, we will recess until 1:00.
1:06 PMOkay, folks, if you can't see this, then I can't see you.
Welcome back to the February 11, 2020 voting session of the travis county commissioners court. We had a full morning, a shortened lunch break and we are going to reach two agenda items in open court this afternoon, go into executive session on a handful of other items, and then we will be doing somber views some from 3:00 to five. So I am going to be moving at a clip as we did this morning. We got a lot done, thank you so much, commissioners court. Let's go to agenda item 16. 16 is to consider and take appropriate action on a request from the travis county sheriff's office to petition the texas commission on jail standards to decommission 192 jail beds.
1:07 PMGood afternoon, sheriff.
Good afternoon, Judge And commissioners.
Good afternoon.
Go ahead.
All right. we are here asking the court to approve our proposal to decommission a significant number of jail beds, reducing our corrections system design capacity. Our ability to do this reflects the successful diversion efforts through collaboration and partnership with our stakeholders. We at the sheriff's office have faith in the future and the continued diversion efforts. And I hope -- am hopeful that this is simply the first step in removing beds from the system that do not meet the needs of our correctional system, or reflect the standards of care expected from the community we serve. It is important that we collectively continue to work toward implementation of the master plan to properly address the needs of our community and the jail population. This proposal is a significant step in the right direction.
1:08 PMCan y'all tell us a little bit about how this tracks with our adult facilities master plan with regard to our expectation of bringing buildings down and decommissioning beds as we replace it with better, energy-efficient facilities that seek to minimize the trauma and maximize the rehabilitative environment?
1:09 PMI'll allow the major to address that.
Major wes pritty of the admin and support bureau. As far as how this segues into the overall master plan to include the female facility, I believe as good stewards of taxpayer money, the sheriff's office certainly, as we manage our resources and assets that are assigned to us, we have recognized that the fruits of the diversion efforts over the course of time have certainly left these outlying buildings that lie on the outer periphery of our complex -- they're unused. And yet we still find ourselves paying utilities on these buildings to the course of a little over $1,200 a month. There are other resources that are tied up in these buildings -- computers, mattresses, and things of that nature -- which would be used elswhere in the system. In addition, there's on going maintenance efforts that have to continue as long as we keep these buildings on the rolls, per texas commission on jail standards, unless we officially decommission those buildings and take those off of our count. So I believe for us, it makes good sense in that those buildings have been rarely used. The last time they were used was for a short period of time in the latter part of 2018. They did house at that time low-risk female offenders. But we have since found a way -- especially with the diversion efforts -- to bring those folks back into our more efficient buildings which are connected to the inmate mall so that we can better deliver services to those that are in our care. Of course I say better deliver services. We still acknowledge that we need that new facility to deliver the standard of care that I believe that the community and the commissioners court would like for us to deliver.
1:11 PMI did note from the backup that the master plan in 2016 recommended the demolition of these buildings, because they all scored poor in the functional and architectural rating and fair in mechanical, electrical, and applying rating. So this is according to plan, at least as far back as '16, if not previous to that. So, I applaud you for sticking with the plan to take these buildings offline. Commissioner Shea.
I think we've been hearing a lot -- because it's campaign season, we're going into the primary -- raising the idea that travis county is sort of a place of mass incarceration. For the larger judicial system, and criminal justice system, there are enormous areas that need improvement. But I think it's important to call out the work that travis county has been doing to divert people who have ended up on the wrong side of the criminal justice system, maybe because they have mental health issues, maybe because they have drug and alcohol issues. You know, largely because they're poor, not because they are criminals. And so we've really worked hard. We've had one of the first -- I learned this from Judge Guy her herman the other day. He created the first pr bond office in travis county in 1978 and it was the first in the state. So we have a long, important history of -- I think -- having progressive and humane practices. And there's always room for improvement, but we've done good work. And the fact that we're able to now close down 192 jail beds says a lot about the work that we've been doing. You can't achieve this overnight. This is a result of a lot of concentrated work. I give the advocates a lot of credit for their work as well. But can you just say a little bit about how our average daily jail population has declined as well over -- I don't know a reasonable time period, but i'm struck by the drop in the numbers.
1:13 PMWell, I know that our jail population is lower now than it's been in a decade. That's significant. It is through the collaboration of not only just the criminal justice, but our other stakeholders that are involved here in the county. I mean, it is definitely a group effort.
1:14 PMAnd that's part of what has led to our ability to close down jail beds at the travis county jail, a lower population coming in. And I also want to give a shoutout to all the stakeholders -- thl the different supp support systems, the entire array of people that are working to improve our criminal justice system.
And I think, commissioner, what's also very important is that we're doing a great job now, but it's very hopeful of what the future holds and that we will continue with building on the diversion programs that we have.
I just wanted to call that out. And I think this is really an important step. We were also able to reduce our number of corrections officer slots in our last budget cycle. These are pieces of that puzzle that tell a really important story.
So this is a motion to reduce the design capacity of the travis county sheriff's office jail system through the decommissioning of 192 beds. Do I have a motion?
1:15 PMMove approval.
Second.
We have a motion and a second by Commissioner Shea seconded by Commissioner Gomez. Of course this is a request to jail standards, but we do anticipate that they will look on this request kindly since they have repeatedly told us that our current facility is inefficient and in significant need of redesign. So, all those in favor? That passes unanimously with Commissioner Daugherty temporarily off the dais.
Thank you very much.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Next sort of a companion piece, let's go to the next agenda item, which is a1. A1 is to -- let me get to the language -- receive update on the initiatives proposed by the who's in our jail and why workgroup.
1:16 PMGood afternoon, roger jeffries yo, county executive for justice planning. I'm here with a whole group of folks that we want to talk to you a little bit about some new processes in the granting of pr bonds. Why don't we start by introducing ourselves. And i'll start to my left.
Good afternoon, amanda woog, executive director of the texas fair defense project.
Kimberly pierce, justice planning.
1:17 PMJudge Of county court number 7, administrative Judge For the county courts.
David, travis county attorney.
Margaret, travis county district attorney.
Adult probation and pre-trail.
Jeff, texas indigent defense commission.
George, texas a&m university.
And we have bradley here from cap ds. So, there is a subgroup that formed out of the jail population monitoring group, who's in jail and why. We presented to you in October of 2019 and talked about -- we took a snapshot of the daily jail population and talked to you about why those people were in jail. We also talked about the county's bonding process and how many people get bonds and why, and how many don't and why. That work group has continued to meet, largely led by -- spearheaded by our county attorney, district attorney and judges who wanted to further look at ways that we could possibly get even more people out on pr bonds. And the fruit of that work is here now. And we're going to let you all talk about it.
1:18 PMLet me start with, at the October presentation that roger this mentioned -- had mentioned, one of the last questions I raul recall was one from Commissioner Daugherty. He asked, are we there? Have we got a system that we're fine with and we can kind of call it a day? I recall my response was we're never there. We always have to keep striving to improve. And so the committee -- I think that shows that the committee continued meeting. We've got, in your packets here, recommendation from the committee. I'm not sure -- the one you have, it looks like you're suffering from the old double-sided pages that don't get copied. I've got one of the original copies. But the committee is going on and has worked towards some recommendations and we'll be discussing some of those with you in a little while. But I think the main thing that we're here to update you on that's gotten some news, of course, is the county court at law judges were working with us throughout on that committee and have taken the extraordinary step to move forward with a standing order providing for an automatic bond process to be added on top -- in conjunction with our already very wonderful personal bond system. I'm going to want to turn it over to elizabeth. But I went back -- I remembered as recently as September of 2018 when the state legislature was beginning to look at responsibilities and issues related to this, there was a statesman article that lauded travis county's program. So I thank you, Commissioner Shea. We heard about Judge Herman and how this all started. We have always been a county that has led in our processes, especially for personal bond. And what this does is continues to improve upon that. Margaret, do you want to start?
1:20 PMI can discuss a little bit about the staying orders and the memo that is in your packet. I'm not sure if it's in the record that it's supposed -- order it's supposed to be in, but there's a stay in order and a memo, if you have a chance to look at those. I'm happy to answer questions. David's right. Travis county, we've been lucky to have great pretrial services. People get out on personal bonds and are able to show back up. And I believe in one of the numbers I saw, when y'all did the snapshot in august, 11% of misdemeanors were in custody. The judges worked really hard on this. We talked to other judges around the state, even as recently as last week. We met with two judges from harris county who I previously had spoken with as well. And we've had a couple of judges go visit harris county. And we have another group that's paying a visit with our court administrator, as well as bradley mentioned -- I don't want to throw you out there. He's mentioned he would like to go as well for us to see how their process works in harris county. And as david mentioned, this is not replacing what we have currently. It's adding on to it. It's one step further. It's going further in some ways than harris county has done, and what the Judge In harris county told me. Our intent and our hope is people get out of jail quicker and they're not sitting there waiting for their case to be heard, and for them to be coming back and show back up to court with an attorney present for them. This order is in addition to our current pretrial services personal bond program. There are some exclusions on there, as you can see, assaultive offenses would not be a part of this group, as well as violation of protective orders, as well as driving while intoxicated charges if they are within a certain amount of time from a previous one. We have that down there just because those people could still possibly get a personal bond. And we're not preventing them from doing so. But that would be up to the magistrate on duty at that time to make that determination. If there's any questions that I can help answer at this point, or I can continue going along. Also, there's some other exceptions on here, people who have failed to show up in the past, have criminal history, those type of things that will be assessed whether or not they are -- would be someone who would come back to court.
1:22 PMLet me see if I can in a nutshell lay out what is going to happen with this and the impact of this order. You're probably aware under our current process, someone is booked and this then they are interviewed by pretrial services. And pretrial services will do a number of interviews. And they will make a recommendation to the magistrate on whether personal bond should be granted or not. And it's really up to the magistrate. There are times when, as you can tell from our snapshot and our survey we did last time, there are instances, certainly, where pretrial services does not recommend personal bond and yet the magistrate grants it. I don't recall any cases where pretrial services recommended it and a magistrate did not agree. I don't personally recall that. What this system does is keeps that. That process is still there. But on top of it, it puts basically an expressway and takes for all those misdemeanants, except for the ones the Judge Mentioned, the carveouts. And those people by this order are already granted a personal bond automatically. They're granted that personal bond. For those that are excluded that doesn't mean they don't get personal bond. There's been some confusion with this. That means they fall to the regular system that we've had here for so long that has resulted in a great number. That snapshot showed after we remove the external and local holds, 71% of misdemeanants were getting personal bond. We still need some negotiations on some of this, what will it mean. But the Judge Is correct. We're hoping it means people get out sooner and that we can actually improve on that 71%.
1:24 PMAnd that's people that are on this expressway. We were working with -- like I said, this just happened. So we were working with all the individuals that are a part of this to make it work. The sheriff's office, pretrial services, so they are on a faster track. They're not sitting in jail. When we talked to harris county, even their general order bonds, if I recall, people were sitting in jail a lot longer than what we usually do anyway on a personal bond. I feel the judges were very shocked to see how quick we were here in travis county. We can even do better. There's always room for improvement. But this has been a group effort. And I want to thank you both for spearheading this.
1:25 PMI can give you a quick update on the felony side of this. The discussions have been very good with the district judges and they have been directly engaged now in the committee's work. So what they asked the district attorney to do is furnish them with -- it's kind of the opposite of the misdemeanor approach. With the felonies, what they asked me to do is identify for them offenses for which the district attorney would not object to the granting of this preapproved personal bond, is --subject to whatever exceptions the district attorney would feel appropriate. So we're going a different way. Or I am suggesting a different way in response to the discussions with the district judges. I think the discussions are going well. And they are meeting later this week. So we'll see what action they take and how it looks. But they've been consulting with the county attorney about how legally they should approach this preapproved bond methodology. And i'm hopeful. I think we're on a good track to do that. And I think it's appropriate. We worked hard. It took -- we had been classified offenses in our office anyway. We've been trying to put together a tool by which we could, for our own management purposes, identify violent versus nonviolent and level of offense so we could see what's happening with different kinds of cases. And so we used that tool, along with our state jail criteria, to generate this list of nonviolent offenses for which we have no objection to the granting of a personal bond, subject to conditions that look a whole lot like those in the misdemeanor standing order. So that's where the felony piece of this is. And we'll be able to report back on that, I think pretty soon. The committee also discussed where do we go from here, because as david said, we're never done. There's always more work to do. And one thing I would point out is that we believe the examination by pretrial services as to the arrested person's ability to pay bond is the piece that needs to be added and will be added at the time of magistration. And we've recommended that pretrial services -- that y'all look at funding their ability to do that. We think that's a pretty important piece to be added into this. We also this. We also note there are often people who could be released on personal bond, but the magistrate considers them -- they need conditions placed on them like a gps monitor and whatever those dwi devices are that you all use. And if they are indigent and can't pay for those, the commissioners court should consider funding that. But most important probably the change we recommend moving forward to examine would be having counsel present at the magistration where the bond is being set. So that's going to require a little more -- some more meetings, some more thought because if there's defense counsel present, it May well be that the magistrate or ultimately the Judge Would want the input from the state, and we need to look at all that and come forward, but we are committed to coming to you within this budget cycle with the proposal as to how this could be done most efficiently. And I think that segue's nicely into jeff talking about a grant opportunity.
1:29 PMThank you. and to be clear, i'm not part of this committee, but i'm impressed you all are looking into this so heavily. Jeff burkhart, director of the texas indigent commission. First congratulations on hiring your first chief public defender, that's a very big deal, travis county, and a lot of the credit goes to the folks on the dais for making that happen. So congratulations. We talk about billing the public defender office, I remember this commissioners court looked at this through a few different lenses. You looked at it as a human experience. We talked about what is it like if it was my son or daughter, being arrested, going through the system. At the end of the this criminal justice system, will our kid be better off, will society be better off at the end of this? And that's fantastic. We're working on building -- we're working with about 20 counties on building new public defender offices and that's not always part of the conversation. How does that reality to counsel magistration. When they get picked up, the first time they appear in front of a Judge In texas is magistration. Right now they wouldn't have an attorney by their side in 250 of our 254 counties. The first time they show up in front of a judge, they are standing there alone, they don't have an attorney counseling them on this and this is an important moment. This is a moment where probable cause is being determined, where bail is being determined. As a practical matter, someone is deciding whether your kid or mine would be spending the next days, weeks or months in jail. And that's a very important moment to have an attorney by your side. The fifth circuit right now is considering the booth decision out of galveston. We don't know how they are going to rule, but they could say all of texas has to have counsel magistration. We're waiting to find out how that happens and my hope is that if the fifth circuit does come down on that side of it, we can go to the legislature and ask for funding so counties aren't shouldering the entire burden. That's a big concern. As far as counsel magistration, I defer to you all what's best for travis county, but ways we May be able to help. Out of the four counties current have magistration, we've helped fund a couple of those and we can continue to help with something like that. We can do a four-year grant. Normally our four-year grants we fund 60%, but another opportunity I want to bring up and I mentioned I think it was Friday when we met as a group is that right now we're funding a research study. In a a few texas counties including hays county to the south. To do a randomized control trial of counsel magistration. Essentially what this looks like, half defendants would receive counsel and the other would not on a random basis. We would study the difference. Our hope again is to have a report that shows us what kind of difference does this make. Are there cost savings for the county in terms of jail beds, is it better for the client, better for the magistrate. We have strong anectdotal evidence all of those are going to be true based on our experience in harris county and bexar county and others. Things have been a lot easier for the magistrates because when you have an attorney there, the client is not talking about the details of their case. When you have an attorney there, things tend to go a little more smoothly. But certainly better for the client, better results. Some jail bed savings, but that's anectdotal evidence so we're looking to study this. If travis county were interested in doing this study and wanted to move to full-time magistration, this could be like a phase-in into full-time magistration. Having counsel magistration. This is Dr. George mcfall and I don't know if you want to say a word or two about the study.
1:33 PMJust to follow up on what jeff mentioned, for a period of one year randomized days on which counsel would be present and on the other days counsel would not be present. On those days counsel would be present, they would basically cover all defendants for magistration. Then we will follow for another year outcome such as type of bail, recidivism and failure to appear. We would finish the study with a cost effectiveness study in terms of the cost of the counsel, in terms of the cost of savings and so on and so forth.
1:34 PMOur hope is travis county were interested in that study, basically texas a&m and partners at harvard are funded by the arnold ventures now. And that's for the research part. And tidc has been funding 100% of the representation for that one year. That's an option and i'd be happy to take any questions you might have.
Commissioners? Commissioner Daugherty, I see you wanting to ask a question. Am I wrong?
1:35 PMYou are just -- a soothsayer. Well, hey, I have really put a lot of time into this in meeting with people, and I probably have been the slowest to come around to okay, I guess some of this makes sense. Fewer people in jail means something to me. I mean that -- and I think that's probably the light thing to do. -- right thing to do. Going down this list and making stars on offenses subject to this order and I went, well, that's a pretty big deal to me and that's a pretty big deal to me. I find myself before I can just blanketly go, okay, well i'm okay with it, there's -- there May be more personal. This is probably the worst time to, you know, put burglary of an automobile in front of me today because in the last month, I mean we've had about 30 break-ins in our parking lot in my business. And so i'm really pretty worn out with, I mean, if you catch somebody doing this kind of stuff, not that I want to send them to huntsville, but I want something, you know, to go on with them. And I realize that this is just really do you let somebody out, you know, with a personal bond. And so i'm always compromised in, okay, well, if I do that, I mean because i'm one of these folks that I do think that there need to be consequences to doing something, and likely when you get caught and you are before a Judge Or when you are brought in, there's likely something that you have done unlawful. I mean you haven't been found guilty, I realize that. So I struggle with, you know, just shortcutting something as opposed to getting somebody's attention and say this, you know, is more important. And the last thing we want to do y'all is read something about where a person gets off on a personal bond, goes out, I mean unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, that to me means driving while license suspended. Is that not the same thing?
1:37 PMNo, it's driving a car that does not belong to you and for which you had no permission by the owner.
Car theft.
That's pretty big. well, I mean I know where we're trying to get and i'm just about there because I do think that it's, you know, it helps the system, helps the community, and so i'm struggling, but, you know, you might have to get a couple more people at the end of the rope to pull me all the way over because I realize i'm kind of getting, you know, brought that way. But for good reason. So I just make that comment so you know what's swirling around in my head with this, but overall, I mean I think we're getting to a spot that's a really good place for us to be. So good.
1:38 PMI'm there. i'm there. I've been there a long time. And I think I was very, very lucky that when I joined travis county back in -- way back when, I was very lucky to have seen the work done for pretrial. And for probation. And the reason for that was that to avoid having people be in jail longer than they had to. Or not having a lawyer. And so that's always been an interest to me, if we're going to have a justice system that's fair to everybody across the board. So as far as i'm concerned, i'm ready to join the study. If that's, you know, what would be the first step. Or, you know, wait for the courts to say this is what you got to do. And I think it's a necessary thing in the criminal justice system.
1:39 PMSo for me, my question comes from a little different direction because i've had my car broken into as well. And the concern that I have is for a person that might need some form of intervention. As we try to divert, how do we make sure that folks get the services that they need along the way. You know, I mean basically what I asked for the person when they caught him was I wouldn't press charges if they accepted treatment, because there was an aaddition problem. What can we do to make sure that if someone wants services or resources that we can get them to the services that they need so that they -- hopefully that they can be removed from that condition.
1:40 PMLet me try, commissioner. absolutely, but understand what we are here talking to you about is is process at booking, so they've already -- law enforcement has already believe there's probable cause so they are already booked and this is to get them out. What you are talking about is very important in this community is the options for resolution of a case. And so those opportunities for diversion, those opportunities for, you know, counseling, rehabilitation in lieu of punishment. Those are still there. This doesn't really affect that. This is the people to be able to get out sooner and be able to continue their lives so their life situation isn't further deteriorated where they might not even have the viability, the opportunity to seek diversion, rehabilitation because they are so far behind because of this incident.
1:41 PMGotcha.
Commissioner, if I May answer both you and Commissioner Daugherty, I think david escamilla is correct about the rest of the justice system is still in place, but I want to highlight the goals you are talking about, the interventions you are discussing aren't short circuited or prevented by having this. In fact, they are reinforced. To the extent there's criminal justice involvement has a positive effect or an opportunity to change trajectory of a person's life, the opportunity diminishing quickly with pre-trial incarceration. We see within only a few hours the first day any benefit that you see of jail is deteriorating rapidly. People are losing jobs, losing homes, their child care and the child arrangements are being interrupted and all of that makes it harder for a person to make the exit from the justice system you are talking about. So if you do want to have diversions and you do want to have treatment and you want to exit people from the justice system, whether they need services in another system or they are done with the justice system entirely, the best way to achieve that is get them out quickly, get them in the community, return them to their homes and families so that we don't disrupt a person's life because we've seen in various studies and we can present them all day long, the longer a person is in jail, the worse your outcomes are typically going to be. Whether you are talking the criminal justice outcome which we've seen in travis county, people get much worse outcomes, fewer options and they are not necessarily the options we like like back time and jail time. And so getting people out effectively and quickly is very important to achieving the goals that both of you were discussing which is to give people an opportunity to not get caught up long term in the criminal justice system.
1:42 PMCommissioner Shea.
1:43 PMI'm also very supportive of the randomized study of the benefits of magistration at -- what is it, the benefits of counseling magistration. But I also know that this is something where we're really struggling with revenue caps to understand how we're going to find the money to even pay for the public defender office once the tidc grant goes away. So there would have to be -- there would have to be legislation, if the courts rule that it's required, then hopefully there would be a way to convince the legislature to actually fund it because that's what's going to be necessary. What i'm trying to understand is I had thought that we essentially did this in practice already. So it would be useful for me to understand how the standing orders change or if it will represent much of a change or -- because my understanding was that when people ask me what does the county do, the biggest part is justice related, all up and down the spectrum, and I feel like we have a very humane justice system that's really tried to identify what's the root cause. And if it's because someone is mentally ill, they shouldn't be treated as a criminal, they should be medically treated because that's the bulk of what they need. So how do these -- i'm really glad we've done this. I guess maybe to make it more systematic. But can you just describe how this is different than what we had been doing and if it's much of a difference. Because my sense we were doing a lot of this already anyway. Not to diminish what you've done here, but just to understand it better.
1:44 PMAnd so the committee has in your backup I think there's some descriptions of it, but in a nutshell, like david mentioned, when someone gets arrested, they are interviewed by pretrial. Pretrial is here as well so thank you pretrial for being so instrumental in this process as well. To either, you know, recommend bond or not recommend bond, but they do extensive, you know, interview process with the individual that is arrested. How this would be different or actually in addition, that still could happen for the people excluded on the exclusion list, right? Is the judges have already signed and have already done a general order bond or a pre-approved personal bond, they mean basically the same thing, which would be those people are already -- we've already said they are okay. First time offenders, right, that are not on this list, right? They are already pre-approved. Now pretrial needs to find out information from them might be financially so we can determine whether they get a court appointed attorney and also whether or not what the bond will be set at. But that, you know, and another thing we're trying to talk to the sheriff's office about is these individuals that are pre-approved May not -- shouldn't be dressed out.
1:46 PMWhat does that mean?
In jail clothes. each be --
While they are waiting this process, they might be able to to be in street clothes.
Keep them in their street clothes. Safe, but get them in and out and processed out the door. So we are not -- we're not just meeting what harris county does in their process in time in keeping people, but it saves the jail to handle people that they need to focus on and not people that are pre-approved for this general order bond.
In short, commissioner, I think we're hoping, it's our goal from this and more work to do, of course, but it is to gain some efficiencies. There's still some discussion about, you know, is pre-trial going to be able to have some efficiencies in this process. My hope is there's some people they won't have to do this extensive of interviews that allows them to maybe concentrate on the other cases where they need that. But the efficiencies, the possible savings and more importantly the speeding of time to get someone out. And to raise the percentage from 71, i'm hoping personally that it will have some impact on that to actually raise it because of the automatic process. We're a little more challenged than harris county because of our central booking agreement with the city and because we contract with city magistrates, it's even more profound that we can't tell those judges what to do. If you notice that order is carefully crafted to not impact in any way those city magistrates and their authority and what they do. This is the county court at law judges saying we're before you and get it for these cases, we've already approved personal bond. We're not telling them to approve personal booed, we've already done it -- bond, we've already done it for these cases. We are limited in what we can tell them to do.
1:47 PMIs this something where we might take this language to the city and urge them to pass a similar standing order for their magistration judges? I don't know the system well enough --
1:48 PMI think this covers it.
I do think there is support at the city for this approach, and we have had discussions with Judge Statman and so we are mindful of their authority, but we are also believe this to be totally in sync about their philosophy.
I didn't want to give the idea they are in opposition, we have to respect their legal authority and not infringe on it. I've spoken with Judge Statman and she has voiced support for this.
Is this something the city council would have to adopt or judicial realm.
The county court at law.
I mean for the magistrate judges.
If I could add something, there's an opportunity here to streamline this process a lot further and to build in efficiencies and cost savings that we're not seeing with this initial version. There are a couple things I wanted to bring up about this standing order as it reads right now where there's -- not only significant room for improvement, but I really think to do what I hear the county saying it wants to do, which is lower the jail population, decrease the amount of time that it takes for people to get out. I would add to that also lessening the costs of pretrial conditions and pretrial release. So the process as it's being currently considered right now, folks would still go through magistration. I don't know if a lot of people -- I don't know if you all at the dais have seen what magistration looks like in travis county, but you can observe it from the jail lobby, and people are in orange uniforms, shackled in pairs, about 30 people in the room. They don't get access to an attorney. A magistrate sits in the front and read people their rights and assigns bond amounts. So it's a process that is pretty dehumanizing as it stands right now. There's a huge opportunity in this movement that we're seeing that is not currently captured in the standing order to completely bypass that in favor of letting people out who have been deemed to be low risk of not showing up to court or low public safety risk to get them out and avoid that process altogether. This goes, Commissioner Shea, to your point about the cost of counsel at magistration. If you were to adopt this process where people do not have to go through a lengthy pretrial services interview, which includes a risk assessment, and do not have to go through magistration, which would not run into a problem that I don't agree exists about the magistration, but it would bypass any concerns about splitting of authority because people wouldnt be in front of the magistrate anyway. If that process were adopted by a standing order, taking conserve sieve numbers from harris county, we're talking 75% of people charged with misdemeanors not going through that. Think about those numbers when you are thinking about who is getting provided counsel, who is going through the pretrial services risk assessment, who is getting put in front of a magistrate, and really this goal of releasing people as quickly as possible. And I think this is a place where travis county can show up harris county. Harris county is taking too long to get people out in this process. Travis county can really show harris county what's up as far as that's concerned, but it's contingent upon doing this process piece right. I also wanted to point out too, and I think again that addresses a lot of the concerns that we're hearing about costs, inefficients sir and effectiveness, and the other standing order I and others have concerns about, there's a carveout that has the risk of swallowing the entire rule, which is the last carve out in the standing order. This is something I talked to Judge Earl about and it was brought up at the Friday meeting. I hope that this is a version one because these are kind of our two major concerns with it. But I think this process piece is something that could be taken care of pretty quickly and I want on rye it rate the counsel at magistration probably shouldn't be considered seriously before this process piece is taken care of because of the potential that it has for these cost savings and increased efficiencies.
1:52 PMJudge, can I ask a quick question. Not being a lawyer, I really don't know a lot of the technicalities related to this stuff, but if you do away with the risk assessment, how do you then determine who could be released without bond?
So that's the great thing about the general order bond. So the judges in their discretion have already kind of isolated the population they think should just be let out. Risk assessment isn't necessary for people getting the general order bond already because that determination has been made.
1:53 PMAs the county attorney stated, basically it is a fast lane. We've always had a procedural presumption for personal recog in answer bond after pretrial did their assessment. Now we are making that presumption a standing order so that we can avoid some of the churn and go try to to straight to the pr bond for a large category of folks. We still have that still faster program underlaying it for anybody who doesn't fall into these categories. And the categories are -- if you look at the order which is included in the backup --
Assault of offense, violation of protective order.
All persons charged with class a and class b misdemeanor cases are pre-approved for personal recognizance bond, with the exception of violation of -- dwi second, within the past five years, which shows chronic d. U. I. -- dwi. The threat on exhibit or use firearms around school buses, persons already on a bond, those who have a bond forfeit you are warrant or bond revenue capeus issued for the case they are in front of the magistrate for. Other holds, preventing release and we've seen what those might be, state or federal holds. Persons arrested for other charges for which personal bond is not grante pursuant to this order because sometimes people are picked up and already have a pending charge that's serious. Present an imminent danger to the community and I believe that's the exception you are concerned May swallow the rule.
1:55 PMYou said to carve out or something that could be too broad.
In harris county they refer to them as carve-outs. These are already more expansive than the rule 9 in harris county that's been in place over a year, but it's the last one that causes the greatest concern because it delegates a fair amount of services to pretrial services and runs the risk of swallowing the rule depending how that's exercised.
I was trying to understand just the process piece of it. If this provides that all persons charged with class a and b misdemeanor are pre-approved for personal bond except for the following cases, does that mean the people pre-approved who don't fit into any other categories still have to go through magistration, or do they get an off ramp because they are pre-approved.
Right now how we're diagnose doing it in account from. They would still go through magistration. That's where they get the charges read to them, the right to have legal counsel and that's what amanda I think is referring to. In harris county they have people approved and correct me if I am wrong, approved for general order bonds, they are released to come back to magistration another day. I believe in harris county it's like seven days.
1:56 PMThey have to come back.
Come back to get magistrated then. We are not currently set up to do that. And i'm not saying that --
Under the u.s. constitution you still have to be magistrated. And it's a good thing, it's intended to be able to read people their rights and --
As far as I understand it in harris county, the 157 requirements end up being in the court where the case is assigned. They are not brought back only to be magistrated but brought back for first am answer, it's combining these appearances and making it more efficient rather than forcing someone to come back a week later to have something read that could have been read that day.
1:57 PMWe should take a look at those procedural efficiencies and as also as you described not having to dress somebody out would be hugely helpful for everybody involved. We'll continue to look at those procedural aspects, but I don't want to leave the impression on this commissioners court or on the public that magistration is something to be avoided and not done. We -- no, we have to magistrate people. That's an important part of their constitutional rights.
But I can see where if it could be combined with first trial date that's a more efficient process.
Under our system faster than harris county is doing it through that and that's my real concern is which is faster. Some of the information we heard on Friday is that it still takes a great -- from what I understand, longer than the numbers i'm hearing for travis county. But it's what I meant there's still more tinkering to do, more negotiation, more talking. I'm open absolutely and certainly the judges are. It's just we need to learn more and compare the responses and results.
1:58 PMWe've had a very good program for more than 40 years, and we now are going to tweak it further and improve it even more. And that is a very good thing. I think that -- it's also very -- it's wonderful to have the state sitting here with us helping us tinker with it so we can be super mindful going in. This stuff is expensive, y'all. When you experiment with procedural changes inside the court system, just the experiment is expensive. Before you even make the switch. Hopefully the switch will have benefits that not only are financial cost savings but they are also justice -- the cost of justice to the individual savings, which is really the big kahuna. We appreciate the state walking the path with us because I think last we looked, roger, is it less than 17 cents on the dollar that the state helps us out with regard to defense costs?
1:59 PMIt's less than 17 cents. I want to say 12 cents.
Closer to 12.
Less than 12 cents on the dollar. Every dollar that travis county spends on indigent defense, less than 12 cents of it is borne by the state even though it's a u. S. Constitutional requirement.
I do think the opportunity for the study is very timely for us and could give us some excellent information moving forward.
2:00 PMIs there a deadline for applying?
No, I think we would have to talk about it. It's something we could bring to our board for approval at any quarterly board meeting. We'll be meeting next March 12 and after that I believe June 18. And there May be some additional funding from -- you know, even if that is beyond the arnold foundation's deadline, we've been talking there May be additional foundations that May support an effort like that. And the only other thing in terms of cost because Commissioner Shea, that you are talking about in terms of cost, we're hearing that that exact thing again and again from every county. That's a big concern across the state. We would fund 100% the first year. Assuming that's successful and works out travis county and you can show there's cost savings and benefits to individuals, my hope is that we would still be able to go back to our board and look at a four-year grant where we fund maybe 50% of that and request that from our board. We're happy to partner with you any way we can.
2:01 PMThat will be great. we will be looking at putting together for budget purposes whether for this budget, still I think we should do it before this budget. We might not be able to afford it though, is take a look at -- get the sharpest pencil we can on what representation at magistration would cost. Not -- and I don't want to have unrealistic expectations here. We need to have a sharp pencil and figure how much it would cost under a 3. 5 revenue cap. It's going to be a large number. This kind of pilot would be important to us so that we would know what kind of offsetting benefits there are both in human benefit and in financial benefit because it will be a big number.
Yeah.
2:02 PMI just want to be honest about that. To everybody. And the pie is only so large. So we May have to figure out a different way to slice the pie.
This is great. this is very helpful information.
Thank you.
We really appreciate it and this demonstrates how many different entities are necessary and what's the old joke how many lawyers does it take to screw in a light bulb. How many different lawyers, advocates, pretrial service folks, managers, financial people, facilities people, et cetera, et cetera does it take to make a real substantive evolution in the criminal justice system. A lot. Thank you.
I just want to point out that directly impacted people have not really deliberately been brought to the table in these discussions and I hope that moving forward as these processes continue to be crafted and we think of things like not changing clothing and ways to humanize the process more, I hope there will be a deliberate effort to bring people who have been through the system to the table more.

2:03 PMA very good point. thank you.
Thank you all.
All right. we are at 2:00 in the afternoon. We do want to return to the cafeteria number, agenda item number 28, consider and take appropriate action on a license agreement with the sterling events hospitality to operate the cafeterias. I believe there was a standing motion by Commissioner Shea, seconded by Commissioner Daugherty to approve the contract with revisions that were refined over the lunch break. Are we good with the revisions?
2:04 PMYes, judge, I met with Mr. El khoury and paul hopingardner.