Austin City Council Approves New City Budget

The financial year 2017/2018 saw Austin City Council approve its largest ever budget that was $ 3.9 billion that came into effect on the 1st of October 2017. Most of the budgetary allocations had already been allocated by the staff’s projected budget that was based on the recurrent and past actions by the council. The decision to come up with the city’s largest budget was preceded by months of serious budgeting and funding discussions by various key stakeholders in the management of the city. The budgeting procedure included three full days of coming up with budgetary deliberations the previous week. The highest ever budget for the city was conceived due to the continued agitation by the council for many months to increase its budgetary allocation towards the social service money and the feeling that previous budgets had been insufficient for the provision of social services. The budget seeks to cover specific social services such as electricity, aviation, and water.

What sectors received increased funding in the budget?

Since the budget for the Austin City Council in the 2017/2018 financial year seeks to ensure increased provision of social services, there are increased budgetary allocations towards various key sectors of the city’s social service sector.

The budget highlights increased budgetary allocations towards:

  • Ensuring an increase in exemptions on homestead: The 2017/2018 budget suggests that there will be increased homestead exemptions for the senior citizens living within the city and are over 65 years or are physically challenged up to a sum of $85,000. Through such exemptions, the city council seeks to ensure that the elderly and the physically impaired will receive certain tax reliefs that will ensure they have access to quality living standards.
  • Ensuring there are new positions and increased budgetary allocation to the new central library. The city council of Austin has been focusing on increasing nine positions and an increase in the city’s allocation to the new central library. The 2017/2018 budgetary allocation towards the project of a new central library was capped at $ 1.9 million and this is likely to ensure that the project will be funded fully.
  • Increase allocation to the firefighting department. The Austin City Council’s 2017/2018 budgetary allocation sought to increase 30 more firefighters and allocate $ 3.9 million towards the consolidated emergency services district.
  • The budget seeks to ensure that there is a 3 percent increase on the levies charged on the Public Health Contracts.
  • The 2017/2018 allocation sought to allocate more than $500,000 to the department of housing and ensure that its capacity to address homelessness will be enhanced.
  • The budgets has slapped an increase of 2.5 percent to all non-sworn permanent city workers and enable the city council to establish a minimum wage rate of $14 per hour for all the employees of the council.
  • The budgetary allocation for the Forego Council travel fund was revised upwards to ensure that no reserve money would be used. This increased allocation sought to ensure that reserve funds would not be spend on the activities of the forego council.

What sectors experienced a decrease in funding?

As the Austin City Council increased budgetary allocation towards various sectors that seemed to have more significant, there was also a reduction in those sectors that seemed to be of little significance in the quest for the provision of sustainable social services.

They include:
  • The council voted to reduce the finances allocated to speeding up the telecommunications for the installation of Google Fiber. The real location involved a half of the initial amount set aside for speeding up telecommunications. The reallocation was based on the argument that Google had failed to ensure that there was rapid installation of their fiber.
  • The hotel tax funded budget was channeled towards paying for security services. The 2017/2018 budgetary allocation for the Austin City Council, there was $1.2 million finances that were for the tax-funded budget for security services during the spring music festival events in the South and South West.
  • The budget revised the reserve fund by $50,000 and this was channeled towards the construction of a playground that would be suitable for disabled persons. The allocations were approved by all the nine council members although council members Ellen Troxclair and Ora Houston objected the decision to deduct the amount from the reserve funds.

What are the sectors that did not experience changes in budgetary allocation?

The 2017/2018 Austin City Council’ budget maintained its previous allocations to certain sectors that were not affected but the increased and record budget that was endorsed by a 8:3 while the three dissenting councils included Ora Houston, Ellen Troxclair and Jimmy Flannigan.

  • The 2017/2018 budgetary allocations does not increase the allocations towards the Austin City Councils’ 8 percent for homestead exemption.