Austin’s Top News – October 1, 2020

Austin's Top News from News Radio KLBJ

Bipartisan opposition towards Project Connect

Progressive Austinites say they want people to know they stand against Project Connect. Also known as Proposition A, the $7.1 billion transit overhaul will be up for voter approval next month as a bond election. Local lawyer Fred Lewis and other community leaders say the timing and the costs are all wrong.

“I think it’s true that the property tax increase of 25% only applies to city tax. Where I disagree with the order is that tax increase is a lot of money to people that are struggling right now to just barely stay afloat,” Lewis says. 

He says this tax will last for a long time and Lewis doesn’t believe it’s a good use of city funds. 

COVID-19 update

Travis County’s coronavirus numbers swing back upward a bit over the past day, although the number of active cases has actually fallen from 640 yesterday to 623 today. But in terms of hospitalizations, there’s 79. There are a handful more people in ICU beds or on a ventilator today, but those numbers are still quite low. The county has found 29,514 cases since March. Within that same time, 28,464 people have made a recovery. 

Williamson County reports very little movement either way and in terms of its coronavirus numbers. Over the past day, hospitalizations remained unchanged at 11. Still, 131 active cases. 8,389 people have recovered. 21 new cases have been added since yesterday, bringing the overall total confirmed 8,663. 

Eviction bans

Austin and Travis County both have extended the ban on evictions throughout the rest of this year. Mayor Steve Adler says it’s the same timeline that’s been set forth by federal guidelines, but it only applies to people who pay less than $2,475 a month in rent. 

“If you’re paying at or above that, you would be liable for evictions unless you can complete the government’s COVID harm affidavit,” Adler says.

As the city tries to keep certain industries afloat, Adler says this eviction protection also extends to places like music venues and child care centers.

Music venue fund

Today, the Austin City Council will vote on the $15 million proposal to provide funding for struggling struggling industries, including music venues. Steve Sternschein with the National Independent Venue Association tells FOX 7 it’s members here in Austin are on pace to lose 30-40 venues at least 

“That will leave a dozen, maybe, left, in a place where there used to be 50 plus places for an artist to go make a living,” says Sternschein.

Today’s council vote would add $5 million to the Live Music fund, $10 million more for restaurants and day cares. 

UT football game’s COVID protocol 

The University of Texas will expect any student attending Saturday’s football game to show proof that they’re negative for COVID-19. This student tells CBS Austin that testing requirements give students a peace of mind. 

“I wouldn’t go to any of the games if people weren’t tested and if it wasn’t socially distanced. The university has made me feel really comfortable going to these games,” she says.

During testing for the first home game, 95 students were found to have the virus. Austin Public Health has been critical of UT for not enforcing mask wearing throughout the entire game.

Airline furloughs

Between American Airlines and United Airlines, 32,000 employees will be furloughed across the nation unless more federal funding could be secured. If those furloughs are allowed to go through, many workers here in Austin at the airport could be impacted. Nearly 500 people are employed here in Austin between United and American Airlines. 

NASCAR at COTA

NASCAR is coming to Austin Circuit of the Americas in about eight months. COTA CEO Bobby Epstein says that means jobs. 

“This brings tens of thousands of people to our city and they shop in our stores and they stay in the hotels and they go out to the restaurants. And I think they’re gonna love what they see in Austin. And I think if we do this for many years ahead there will be more people each year,” says Epstein.

Some people still wonder if COVID might impact the 2021 COTA a season. Epstein says if the pandemic impacts crowds, it could be a small turnout. However, he says that we have to make plans now for life to get back to normal at some point.

Green fees rise

As of today, you’ll be paying more to play golf on Austin owned golf courses. It’s part of the city’s new budget. Greens fees are going up by 5% or more. Courses that will see the fee increases include Hancock, Lions Municipal, Gray Rock, Roy Kizer, Jimmy Clay and Morris Williams. 

This news and more on News Radio KLBJ:

https://omny.fm/shows/klbjam-flash-briefing-1/am-newscast-10-1-20

 

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