City Council resumed work following spring break on March 20 with one of the longest agendas of the year, 72 items requiring 165 pages of supporting documents (referred to as the Agenda backup on the City council web site). Most of the items were routine and the Council either approved them without discussion or tagged matters requiring further study. One of the most significant items passed, #29, 29a, and 29b on the docket) involved expansion for Tax Reinvestment Zone 20 and approval of several major projects proposed by Houston Baptist University valued at over $160 million, improving the front gate and installing sidewalks along the perimeter of the property.
The project providing infrastructure will benefit from reimbursement under Section 380 which provides for reimbursement of infrastructure constructed for the benefit of the public through tax rebates. Although Houston Baptist University is a non-profit organization, it operates Beechnut Street, Inc. as a for-profit organization which will handled the project, and hence, be eligible for the reimbursement.
In other matters, the Mayor's Report was delivered by Development Director Andy Sicken concerning progress of negotiations with Harris County in planning a joint booking facility for all detainees. The City of Houston's municipal jail is an overcrowded holding facility, usually for persons charged with misdemeanor violations of the City Code, such as public intoxication. Most detainees are held for short periods (average 21 hours) until processed by the courts. Some are county offenders housed in the municipal facility due to overcrowding at the county jail. Harris County is working on plans for expanding its jail, and both the city and county are negotiating the development of a joint booking facility.
Mr. Icken stated that in the short term, the City and County will share the cost of a consultant to design the facility. A complete contract and update on the plans will be presented to council next week.