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City Council Preview: Circuit of the Americas’ Big Ask, Affordable Housing & More

The days go by so fast: Today marks the last Austin City Council meeting of the year. And at 98 items, it’s going out with a bang. Here ‘s what council has stuffed in their stocking:

Don’t Start Your Engines?: An organizing group with the Circuit of the Americas just received more than $29 million from the state’s Major Events Trust Fund to help pay for costs associated with putting on November’s Formula 1 event.

Today, the Austin City Council will talk about giving the Circuit Events Local Organizing Committee (CELOC) the power to act on the city’s behalf to submit future requests for support under the fund.

That would allow the group to recoup tax revenues raised from other events such as MotoGP and V8 Super Cars. CELOC says a decision will have to be made quickly because applications are due at least three months prior to an event and the MotoGP race is scheduled for April.

But questions are already circling the track: Austin Chronicle publisher Nick Barbaro argues“city sales tax revenue, likely in the millions of dollars, be given directly to CELOC instead of to the city of Austin.” Is this resolution coming in for a pit spot?

Affordable Homes for the Holidays:  Here’s some last minute shopping: Council members are asking the City Manager to find up to $10 million in affordable housing, fast.

A resolution from council members Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo asks for the funds, noting “immediate opportunities exist for leveraging outside investments in affordable housing” – like $30 million in state tax credits requiring a $4.5 million city match.

Tovo and Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole have another item calling on apartments that receive city rebates for energy-efficient upgrades “not to increase rents at the property during a reasonable period, unless the increase is demonstrably related to matters other than the energy-efficiency work performed.”

Stocking Stuffers: There’s lots more under the tree today: The Austin Business Journal reports on an item designed to boost small local business, and the Chronicle also has an agenda rundown.

Interested? As always, you can watch the meeting online.

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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