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In Austin the idea of using taxpayer money to assist in funding election campaigns of mayoral and City Council candidates may seem novel. But the practice of using public funds to reduce the influence of wealthy candidates and big donors has been around for a long time.
Seventeen states have adopted various forms of publicly funded elections, though some to those have been repealed due either to U.S. Supreme Court decisions, legislative action, or voter referendums, according to Wikipedia. Now on May 1st it is Austin's turn to decide whether to allocate a relatively small amount of money taken from the general fund to boost campaign funding of qualified candidates.
Read the full story on The Austin Bulldog.
Thomas King, a new chair for the Travis Appraisal Review Board, or ARB was appointed 6:30pm Wednesday by District Judge Lora Livingston, who also serves as Travis County's administrative judge. King took over the job just in time to address the board at its Thursday meeting.
And just in time to organize and lead the ARB through what's expected to involve the largest number of protests ever, for several reasons. Residential properties were not reappraised in 2019. Plus, Austin's housing market has such low inventory for sale that bidding wars have broken out. That's a double whammy that promises to cause home valuations to jump significantly. Hotels, restaurants and other businesses dependent on tourism have been hammered by the pandemic, promising a sharp increase in protests from those property owners.
That's good news... Read the full report at The Austin Bulldog.
The Travis Appraisal Review Board (ARB) recently lost its chair, Storey Cordelle, who resigned effective March 9th after enduring unrelenting criticism from Travis Central Appraisal District (TCAD) board members in several recent meetings.
Most of the board's criticism centered on costs that exceeded the 2020 budget for ARB operations to finish formal hearings of 2020 protests. The TCAD board December 3, 2020, approved an increase of $88,425 to cover ARB cost increases. When ARB hearings were conducted later that month the ARB expenses were still nearly $15,000 over budget.
And expenses were not the only concern. The chief appraiser sent a letter to the ARB's consulting attorney, Julia Armstrong, that listed other concerns about how the ARB was being managed.
Read the full story at The Austin Bulldog.
James Timothy "Jimmy" Flannigan, the District 6 council member, was the only incumbent to lose his seat in the fall election. Then Flannigan's phone rang. The caller was attorney Phillip Schmandt, board president of Austin Convention Enterprises Inc. (ACE). That's the organization which oversees management of the city-owned Hilton Austin Convention Center Hotel.
Schmandt had a job offer. He wanted to fill the newly created position of president. "Phillip called and asked me if I'd be interested—literally Wednesday after the Tuesday election," Flannigan said.
As it turns out there is an upside to losing, moneywise. Read the full story at The Austin Bulldog.