The Austin City Council meets this morning to hash out the city’s budget for the next fiscal year. And with competing needs and limited dollars, council members may need three days to agree on the spending.
The city has an overall budget of $3.1 billion – that includes all city services and programs, including Austin Energy and Austin Water. But when it comes to budget adoption, most attention focuses on the general fund – the pot of money that pays for basic city services such as police, fire and EMS, parks, libraries and more. That amount has risen to $742.5 million this year.
General fund spending will likely consume much of council’s attention – council member Kathie Tovo tells KUT News she’s looking closely at funding for youth programs and recreation centers. But the property tax rate that pays for many city services may be on the table too.
City Manager Marc Ott’s budget – the starting point for today’s budget negotiations – contains a 2.2 cent property tax increase. That amount is higher than the 1.8 cent increase the city originally floated in April, when it started drafting the budget. A difference between the county tax assessor’s springtime estimate of the tax rolls, and the certified tax roll she delivered in July is credited for the discrepancy.
Today’s meeting begins at 9 a.m. at City Hall. Council has two additional meetings scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday if it can’t come to consensus today and approve the budget document.