9 Minutes to a Better AIBA

AIBA is here for you, our member. We take that very seriously and we want to be the organization you want us to be. But we need to know what you want.
We haven’t done a membership survey in several years but we’re asking you now. Please take just a few minutes to tell us your thoughts, what you need, what you want (we all know wants can be different from needs), what would thrill you and maybe even what you’d like for us to stop doing.
The survey will take 9 minutes or less. To make you feel extra special about filling out our survey, respondents will be entered into a drawing for:
     1. A free year of membership added to your current membership.
     2. A free upgrade to your current membership.
     3. A $50 Gift Card to Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill
This survey is for AIBA’s use only. Your name and business name are completely confidential. Any data used for advocacy purposes will be aggregated and unidentifiable to the individual.

Nominate Your Favorite Small Business for a Marketing Makeover!

Independent We Stand is a national organization promoting shopping at locally owned businesses. They host an Indie Business of the Year contest in which your favorite business could win big!
The eighth-annual Indie Award competition is now underway and the grand prize for one lucky small business will be a $25,000 marketing makeover! Entering is quick and easy. Just tell us a short story about how your favorite business went above and beyond to deliver great customer service and/or community support.  But enter now because the earlier you enter the better chance they have of winning!

City of Austin Development Services Department Partners with Austin 311

Anyone who has used Austin 3-1-1, the City of Austin’s one call for information and answers, knows how effective the resource is. Staffed by a knowledgable crew, we’ve found them to be exremely helpful. Often, when members contact AIBA about a question or issue, we refer them to 3-1-1 because it’s the quickest way to find what you need.
Over the past few months, 3-1-1 has met with the Development Services Department (DSD) to learn about the services provided, and have undergone extensive training in navigating the DSD website and online tools to learn where to find information for the customer and how to direct customers to find information in the future. In September 2018, 3-1-1 became the primary point of contact for all calls to the DSD. Callers dialing DSD’s primary phone number, 512-978-4000, are automatically routed to 3-1-1 Ambassadors who will provide immediate, responsive and quality customer service to DSD customers seeking assistance and guidance 24/7, including holidays.
Along with improved customer service, this partnership will also:
·      Support continuous service in the event of a City shutdown due to inclement weather
·      Provide a memorable phone number for DSD customers to easily remember
·      Track the rate of responsiveness to customer inquiries
·      Track types of calls and frequently asked questions, which will help in improving DSD’s service levels.
If the requested information is not available or rises to a technical level, 3-1-1 will generate a Service Request routed to DSD Customer Service Representatives. Each request will be assigned a tracking number, which the customer can use to recall their request if they have follow-up questions and view their request status online at 311.austintexas.gov.
DSD is a partner of AIBA which allows us a closer relationship to work together and help local business. This is just one of many improvements coming you way!

Join DSD for a webinar to review new Project Dox enhancements

Project Dox, the ePlan software utilized by DSD will be upgraded on September 22, 2018! The new version 9.1 features several improvements to increase usability.
The upgrade will be completed in two phases:
• Phase I rolls out September 22 and allows the use of any browser to view drawings and PDF files. Other enhancements include a better screen layout, ability to search and sort all columns, and more intuitive button names. Additionally, Project Dox now integrates with Bluebeam for file review.
• Phase 2 will be launched later this year and will include a more streamlined workflow and simpler one-step task acceptance, file upload, and completion.
View screenshots of some of the enhancements.
For more information, contact Christopher Summers.
Applicant Overview webinar
Wednesday, September 19
12:00 noon – 1:00pm

The Damage Done

Dear Local Businesses,
I’ve spent more than 10 years advocating for you at city hall. Some of that effort included educating and wooing city officials. Some of that time was spent fighting for you even when the odds weren’t in our favor.
I’m not one to shy away from a good fight for a good cause. But the fights this year have not been good, they’ve been divisive by design. They’ve been created to make a point. While the victors relish their success at any cost, there doesn’t seem to be any acknowledgment of the damage left behind. The damage of disregard and disrespect of local business. The damage of allowing the demonization of local business at city hall.
I have been deeply affected by this damage and find myself in a dark place. The community of local businesses that I care so much for is under attack. Our beloved local businesses have been labeled the enemy. This is a new reality that is difficult to face and even harder to comprehend. It’s led me to many sleepless nights and a lot of soul searching. Not only for me, but for all the amazing local business owners I know. This is painful. I know you to be kind, supportive community folks who strive to do good and turn a modest profit, not at the expense of your employees but in concert with your team. How has an orchestrated political agenda come to define us otherwise?
Should public policymaking include great debates? Of course. Should stakeholders fight hard for what they believe in? Certainly. But we don’t destroy one another in our quest to win—until now.
Many of you know that Jim Murphy recently sold Sweetish Hill Bakery. I wrote to him saying AIBA would miss him. His reply was shocking:
 “And I have to say that council meeting was a real turning point for me. I walked out of there and decided I was done owing a business in Austin. And it had nothing to do with the Sick Pay ordinance, but rather the way business owners were treated by the council and the Mayor.”
While Jim took immediate and drastic action, he is not alone in this sentiment. Who believes that destroying someone’s business so painstakingly built is acceptable damage?
Austin is filled with smart, creative and compassionate people. We are better than this. I’ve grappled with how to engage in challenging this new reality. I am unwilling to damage others in pursuit of, well, anything. I am unwilling to demonize employees or anyone else to make a point. I care too deeply about the importance of having thriving local business to let short-sighted political agendas divide us.
I am an unapologetic and optimistic idealist. I believe that the only effective way to solve community problems is to work together. I believe that most people are inherently good and do try to do the right thing. I believe in you, Austin. And that is the light that brings me out of this dark place.
AIBA has begun charting a path to bring us together to solve our issues with A Better Process Proposal. This was crafted with a team of two conservatives and two liberals working together to produce a draft that gives us a starting point for gathering the best ideas to address community problems in a way that achieves the best long-term results for everyone-—employees, businesses and the public.
Thank you awesome local business owners for being who you are. You are my light.
Warmest regards as always,
Rebecca Melançon, Executive Director, AIBA

Rate Savings From Austin Energy

In an effort to keep you informed, we wanted to notify you of proposed pass-through rate changes.
Each year during the City of Austin budget process, Austin Energy trues up fees and charges paid by customers that are “pass-throughs.” These are charges meant to collect what we actually pay as an expense and include power supply costs, customer support programs and transmission services, among other items.
There is good news this year for commercial customers. We recommend dropping that basket of charges for a net decrease of 0.2 percent system-wide. As always, the effect for each customer will depend on your rate class and how you use energy.
We propose no change to the base rate, which last changed in 2017 and provided a $37.5 million cost reduction for commercial customers.
The Austin City Council is scheduled to vote Sept. 11 on the budget and proposed pass-through rate changes.
Significant changes in the fees include a reduction in the Power Supply Adjustment of 2.4 percent and a reduction in the Regulatory Charge of 1.6 percent. These reductions are partially offset by an upward change in the Community Benefit Charge. As over or under collections occur, adjustments are subsequently made in pass through charges.
The Key Accounts Budgeting Tool has been updated with these proposed rate changes. You can see the impact on your bills and budget accordingly.
 If you have any questions or need access to the Budgeting Tool, please contact your Key Account Manager. We value your business and appreciate the opportunity to serve you.
Kerri Davis
Kerri Davis | Manager, Commercial & Key Accounts | Austin Energy
721 Barton Springs Rd. | Austin, TX 78704 | 512-322-6574