We’re still about a month away from March Madness, but Austin City Council members are already filling out their brackets.
The council is deliberating what to do with a $14 million budget surplus at mid-fiscal year – the result of higher-than-expected sales tax and development revenues. The council held one work session delving into the topic already; at its work session tomorrow, the council’s posted to take action spending all or part of the available surplus.
So what projects will council members fund?
As a starting point, they’ve approved a list of mid-year funding needs: the bulk of whatever they decide to fund will almost certainly come from those dozen topics. But a few other contenders have emerged as wild-cards, including funds to speed up a forensics testing backlog at the police department. (An item asking the city manager for ways to do just that is on the council’s regular Thursday agenda.)
Further hints about council members’ priorities emerged at the council’s previous work session on the surplus: funds for affordable housing will almost certainly be included in some form, although just how much will certainly be a subject of debate: Mayor Lee Leffingwell took a more conservative approach to the surplus than many of his colleagues, noting the city was already committed to spending on initiatives including Austin’s switch to single-member districts, and a civil-service system for all city employees, which voters approved in November.
With all these competing priorities, KUT News has taken a cue from playoff season and drawn up a bracket illustrating what priorities seem to have made it to the Final Four. (This isn’t the NCAA, so there doesn’t have to be one winner. Moreover, the following is provided for entertainment purposes only; KUT News cannot be held responsible if you are actually wonky enough to wager on municipal policy.)
You can fill out your own 12-seed bracket online.
The council’s work session gets underway starting at 9 a.m. tomorrow. What do you think the city’s priorities should be going forward?