City Looks at Budget Cuts, Raising Planning Fees
The city of Austin is facing a $15 million shortfall in its next budget.
But, Mayor Lee Leffingwell says it’s still early in the budget process and there’s still a chance the City Council can fill the gap with cuts instead of tax increases.
Wednesday’s budget presentation also revealed the need to overhaul the city’s process for construction permits.
“Ninety percent of the department’s related development fees have not changed since 1993,” said Greg Guernsey, the city’s planning director. “Ninety percent since 1993. And inflation really hasn’t helped. That’s gone up about 44½ percent since 1993.”
The revelation comes after a city-commissioned study of the Planning Department.
While the study suggests raising those fees to match the cost of providing the services, it also says the city shouldn’t raise them more than 25 percent. That’s even if the increase doesn’t fully pay for the service. The study suggests that could mitigate against sticker shock customers may feel after the fees are raised.