City Offers Tools for Public Engagement in 2014 Budget Process

            One tool the city is encouraging residents use to provide feedback to the city is the Budget-in-a-Box. Similar to the Meeting-in-a-Box, a tool the city used to gather feedback about the Imagine Austin plan, the Budget-in-a-Box tool is designed for a group of five to 10 people and includes material about city services and ways for participants to provide feedback about what their service priorities are and about the city’s tax rate.

ROT 2013 Parade and Downtown Party!

After you ride in the ROT Motorcycle Parade, join us in downtown Austin for a huge biker bash. Over 200,000 people pack the downtown streets of Austin during Friday Night of the ROT Rally to party biker style. This is the largest biker party you will ever see in a downtown district of any city and it simply cannot be missed! We’ll party in style in plain view of the capitol and 6th Street. Congress Avenue will literally be shut down for biker parking only. The Rally Committee is excited to present a FREE concert featuring headliner bands that will surely be a highlight of the 2013 ROT Rally. Mark your calendar now and we will see you at ROT Rally 2013.

Is Your Tax Appraisal a Fair Assesment?

How do you determine your market value?

You can: contact your Realtor who can provide you with market information, collect information from neighbors who have recently purchased their homes, or a contract company who specializes in assisting with tax assessor valuation protests.

Should you appeal your property valuation?

If the market value on your home is lower than your tax-assessed value, then you should appeal.

When should you receive your property valuation and how long do you have to appeal?

The County Appraisal Districts began mailing property valuations sometime after April 15th. Most homeowners should have received their valuation on or before May 1st. Homeowners have until May 31st, or 30 days from the date they receive their valuation (whichever is later), to appeal.

How to appeal your property taxes.

If you believe your property valuation is higher than the current market value, you should appeal your taxes. When people don

Moolah U Camp Takes Money Lessons Beyond Central Texas

            Each camp has 15 to 20 kids ages 8 to 15 who work together to plan, manufacture, market and sell their product. Some camps make items such as purses made out of duct tape or bookmarks. At each camp, kids have to figure out how much each product is going to cost and set a price to make a profit. At the end of the camp, each kid receives a check for his share of the profits. Kids are encouraged to use that money to open a savings account if they do not already have one.

List of Top 2012 Workplaces


1. JB Goodwin REALTORS
2. Q2ebanking
3. Renaissance Austin Hotel
4. Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union
5. WhaleShark Media, Inc.
6. ESC Region XIII
7. Velocity Credit Union
8. KingsIsle Entertainment, Inc.
9. United Heritage Credit Union
10. Keller Williams Realty International


1. Realty Austin
2. David Weekley Homes
3. Capitol City Janitorial
4. Encompass Home Health
5. Charfen Institute
6. Spiceworks
7. The Container Store
8. CWS Apartment Homes LLC
9. Truluck’s Seafood, Steak and Crab House
10. uShip

Central Texas Braces for Another Sizzling Summer


            Fast forward to 2012. While not nearly as bad as the year before, there were still three times more 100-degree days than in average year. Before the Climate Prediction Center outlook was released, however, there was a glimmer of hope that 2013 would be the year that Central Texas ended its hot streak. The region had the coolest spring in over a decade. Less than two weeks ago, it was the coldest morning ever in May. But a cool May does not guarantee a bearable August. So that means more power usage and higher electric bills.

Get ready for summer utility bills

            A hotter than normal summer means your air conditioning unit will likely be working overtime, costing everyone more money and putting a strain on the state’s electricity grid. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas expects power demands to peak at 68,383 megawatts this summer. That’s above the all-time record of 68,305 MW set in August 2011. One megawatt typically powers 200 homes.
            ERCOT said officials said they’re expecting a summer more along the lines of 2012, but the Texas population is growing and putting more strain on the grid. Expect calls for conservation or “power watches,” this summer from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., the hours of the most intensive electricity consumption. More extreme conditions similar to the summer of 2011 would mean Energy Emergency Alerts and possibly rolling blackouts.
            During a power watch, people are asked to turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances and electronics. They should setting thermostats to 78 degree or higher when they are home and 85 or higher when they’re not. Power-hungry appliances should not be used during the hottest parts of the day.

More drought or finally some relief?

            To get significant rains during the dry summer months, Texas must look toward the tropics. And even though Austin is nearly 200 miles from the coastline, tropical cyclones pose a real threat, but have also been known to end our droughts. Less than three years ago, Tropical Storm Hermine brought more than 15 inches of rain to the region, turning quiet creeks into deadly, raging rivers. Thanks in part to very warm water in the Atlantic, this summer’s tropical activity is expected to be above average with 50 percent more named storms than average, and double the normal number of intense hurricanes. The odds are about 50-50 of one of these storms from the tropics impacting Texas this summer.
            If the drought relief doesn’t come from the tropics, that relief will have to wait for the next El Nino pattern. If a tropical system doesn’t bring a drought-busting rainfall, is there any hope in sight? Yes. Fall and winter floods have filled Lake Travis many times, including 1991, when water nearly reached the top of Mansfield Dam, which holds back the water in Lake Travis. Those rains were provided courtesy of El Nino.
            So, will Central Texas get a visit from El Nino this year? The answer will come from the Southeastern Pacific, where weak easterly trade winds allow the temperature of surface water to increase. This extra warm water keeps the tropical jet stream over the southern part of the United States and feeds Pacific moisture to our part of the country.
If drought conditions persist, stricter water restrictions could be put in place . These restrictions include how often you can water your lawn, wash your car or fill your pool. The City of Austin is currently observing Stage 2 Water Restrictions.

Austin Energy Summer Rates Take Effect June 1

            Of the total electricity used by the average Austin Energy customers, more than 40 percent or almost half is used during summer months. And air conditioning accounts for more than half of summer electric bills More than 80 percent of Austin Energy residential customers average energy use is 2,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) or less during summer months, the utility said. At 2,000 kilowatts, customers can expect an electric bill that’s $44 higher than for the same usage last summer under the old rates.
            By contrast, 85 percent of customers use 1,000 kWh or less during the eight non-summer months which resulted in a $4 per month or less increase due to the new rates.
The new rate system is designed to reward customers who use less power. The rates are organized in a five-tier rate system with lower rates for lower levels of use. 


City Reveals Master Plan for a New City Park

            The master plan is to redevelop Edward Rendon Park at Festival Beach, Fiesta Gardens, and the Holly Power Plant Site. The decommissioned plant will provide an additional nine acres of park land. “It’s going to increase recreational opportunities, and it’s going to open up the area for pedestrian, vehicular and bicycle access,” Yanez said.
The long-term vision, planners say, is to improve and maintain the quality of life in that area. That’s important for families looking to the future. “They’re improving the shoreline,” said Lance Lambert, looking at his six-month-old baby girl, “and they’re creating more play space, specifically for children.”
            The entire project could take up to 20 years. Planners say the rate of progress depends heavily on funding. Austin City Council will vote Thursday to approve an extra $7 million for the continued decommissioning of the plant. The extra money would help with engineering and also environmental concerns to make sure the land is ready for use as a park.


Plan Could Help Save Some History on Rainey Street

            Four of the homes have been torn down or moved, four have been remodeled so that they no longer retain their historic character and 23 remain, said Alyson McGee, the city

ACL Music Festival Line-Up 2013


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