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(The Austin Bulldog)

On May 12th the City's Ethics Review Commission spent nearly two hours discussing a complaint against Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison lodged by Olivia Overturf. Commission members tuned in remotely for the meeting.

The complaint was ultimately dismissed.

But the substance of the discussion was eclipsed, in hindsight, by the fact that Commission Member Debra Danburg made faces at her computer camera that could only be described as bizarre, as seen in the photo montage published here.

Read the full story at The Austin Bulldog.

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While cities and counties are limited by state law to 3.5 percent revenue increases and school districts are limited to 2.5 percent increases (unless a disaster has been declared), the appraisal district is planning for massive spending increases.

The agency's 2021 budget was the same as its 2020 budget: $20,193,893. But the proposed 2022 budget unveiled at yesterday's Budget Work Session weighed in at just a hair under $25 million—$24,986,951 to be exact.

The TCAD board advised staff to do what it could to either reduce or delay increased spending as much as possible before coming back to its June 8 meeting with a full-blown draft budget for further consideration.

Read the full story at The Austin Bulldog.

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Seventeen states have adopted various forms of publicly funded elections, though some to those have been repealed due either to U.S. Supreme Court decisions, legislative action, or voter referendums, according to Wikipedia.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.