Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Spelman’s absence felt as council gridlocks on bond package

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TWC News: Spelman’s absence felt as council gridlocks on bond package
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Two split votes sent the Austin City Council back to square one during a work session Tuesday.

Council Member Mike Martinez offered changes to the City Manager's proposed bond package. Likewise, Council Members Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo tweaked a package from a citizen task force.

"I think we got close today, but obviously we fell short," Council Member Mike Martinez said.

The proposals failed by one vote, which would usually come from Council Member Bill Spelman. The 55-year-old is out for the rest of August, recovering from surgery last Friday to remove a tumor from his pancreas.

"I think it clearly does show that, especially in instances like this, Council Member Spelman would have been a key, critical vote," Martinez said.

Council Member Laura Morrison sits beside Spelman, where his nameplate marked the empty seat Tuesday.

"As long as he didn't abstain, we would have had a 4-3 vote one way or another," Morrison said.

As the remaining six voting members prepare to compromise again Wednesday, Morrison says the debate comes down to needs voiced by citizens versus the city manager.

"Make amendments to get it to $385 million,” she said “There's a fundamental fabric of the proposal that the task force presented."

The council must have three separate readings of the bond package it chooses.

A special meeting may be called Friday afternoon, and if they still can’t agree, council might have to meet over the weekend if nothing passes on first reading Wednesday.

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