STAR Flight service fee increase plus 4 takeaways from Tuesday’s Travis County Commissioners Court Meeting

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Travis County Commissioners Court

The Travis County Commissioners settled a nine-month deliberation about vacation accrual and pay upon separation during a meeting June 20. Earlier this morning, commissioners were briefed on a number of ongoing projects and policy changes. Here are five takeaways from Tuesday’s meeting:

1. Commissioners replaced the existing family medical leave [FMLA] policy with a Chapter 16 FMLA policy that brings the county up-to-date with current statutes. The new policy includes military caregiver leave, military exigency leave and defines a parent, spouse or child as an immediate family member. Other family members are not eligible for FMLA leave unless they are acting as a parent in place of a biological parent.

2. The county is entering into an interlocal agreement with Capital Metro to help develop a plan for current and future transit services in unincorporated areas of the county. Multiple citizens have expressed concerns during the public comment portion of the meeting about the lack of service to the outer areas of the county. The county will spend $16,000 for the performance of services on the plan.

“We recognized that we couldn’t keep beating up CapMetro for not servicing an area outside their service area,” said County Judge Sarah Eckhardt. “Instead we needed to jump in and create a partnership to figure out how to get services out to the unincorporated areas.”

3. Schleen Walker, long-range planning program manager for Travis County, updated commissioners on phase 1 preliminary results of the CapMetro Project Connect. Project Connect is CapMetro’s long-range planning effort designed to create a system of high-capacity transit options to connect people, places and opportunities in an affordable, efficient and sustainable way. Capital Metro has been working with local agencies, stakeholders and the public to identify high-capacity transit solutions that will offer options for travel into, out of and around Central Austin.

4. The Citizens Bond Advisory Committee also gave an update to commissioners on the possible projects for a bond including transportation and park improvements. The county is hosting a series of public input meetings later this month to gather more feedback from residents about the projects and to educate the public on the financial effect it could have.

5. STAR Flight, the county’s air rescue team, amended its billing policies to help increase revenue while decreasing the use of county general funds. Travis County residents currently pay a base rate of $4,500 while non-county residents pay $9,500. Patients are also charged $165 per mile from the pick-up location to the hospital. Effective Aug. 1, the new base rate will be $15,500 with a mileage fee of $200 per mile for all transported patients. The new rates are expected to generate as much as $1 million.