Relief of the electricity bill
This week the Austin City Council approved $ 10 million for electricity bill relief after last month’s storms. This includes $ 5 million for Austin Water customers and $ 5 million for Austin Energy customers. This money is made available immediately.
The city of Georgetown was hit with an electricity bill from ERCOT. Mayor Josh Schroeder tells FOX 7 that they have a nearly $ 45 million bill due April 1.
“That is, you know, far beyond anything we could ever consider,” says Schröder.
He says it bills about four days of energy, but it adds up more than the city would normally spend in an entire year. The good news, even though he says utility customers shouldn’t see their utility bills go up.
Jackie Sergeant, General Manager of Austin Energy, has stepped down from her position on the ERCOT Board of Directors. In a letter, Sergeant says the position was an unpaid volunteer. ERCOT CEO Bill Magnus was fired earlier this week, and several other paid board members have recently stepped down as well.
Governor Abbott’s response to criticism of the mask removal
Governor Greg Greg Abbott is not apologizing for people starting next week to choose whether to wear a mask or not. He tells Dallas TV station KTVT that lifting the restrictions won’t change your own duty to make smart decisions and be personally accountable.
“Everyone must continue to take their own responsibility to take the steps they have already mastered to ensure they don’t get a COVID-19 contract,” says Abbott.
He says just because people have a choice not to wear one doesn’t mean everyone has to stop wearing one.
Governor Abbott faces a major setback this week over the decision, but he also has strong support, including Georgetown State Senator Charles Schwertner, who is also an orthopedic surgeon. And he thinks the governor made the right call.
“I know that all kinds of personalities and medical professionals as well as specialists in infectious diseases may have you wear masks even during normal times,” says Schwertner.
Though even Schwarzer believes the decision was likely somewhat politically influenced to divert attention from this power outage.
The past day saw further declines in Travis County’s COVID numbers. The number of hospital admissions to 235, including 69 people in the intensive care unit, is also lower than a day ago. Currently 1,724 cases are reported to be active, of 76,365 confirmed and 73,880 people have recovered.
The entire hospital space has continued to grow this week in Williamson County, where 717 beds are available as of this morning. As people continue to be vaccinated as soon as possible, 6.6% of people are now fully vaccinated, according to the district, while almost 15% have received their first dose.
Hold harmless precaution
Texas schools have received some much-needed positive financial news. Governor Greg Abbott and the TEA commissioner have announced schools will not lose funds due to lower attendance during the pandemic. Schools could have lost millions of dollars. In this case, “harmless care” means that schools in Texas will receive funding this year based on projections for attendance before COVID, rather than the proportion of students who have actually used face-to-face learning
“Without” keeping harmless, “we would likely investigate massive numbers of layoffs in many of our schools, counties, boroughs, and rural counties,” says Zeph Capo of the American Federation of Teachers’ Texas Chapter. “Without them we could have linked the catastrophic problem with the catastrophic problem.”
Sexual abuse lawsuit against AISD
Lawyers representing a mother who claims her five-year-old child was sexually assaulted two years ago are expected to reveal details of a lawsuit she filed against AISD this week. District Police Chief Ashley Gonzalez and former bus driver Cesar Maldonado, who is now serving a 20-year prison sentence for abuse. The lawsuit alleges that the AISD has repeatedly failed to protect its students.
Tomorrow there will be a special election in Hutto to decide who will serve as the city’s next mayor. Current Alderman Mike Snyder is running against Steven Harris. Voters will also decide who will represent 3rd place on the city council and the race between Randal Clark and Mandi Villareal Salvo. Former Mayor Doug Gaul resigned in November for personal reasons.
It is now illegal to steal cats within the Austin city limits. The city council has passed an ordinance banning stealing unless a veterinarian deems it medically necessary. Austin is now the first city in the state of Texas to prohibit theft. However, many veterinarians have moved away from this procedure in recent years.
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