City Budget

Austin City Council
8:26 am
Thu February 6, 2014

City’s General Fund Ends Fiscal Year 2013 with $14 Million Surplus

Mayor Lee Leffingwell says a city budget surplus should go to "preserve … and potentially maintain the property tax rate, or even reduce it.”
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

This article is written by KUT's Austin City Hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor (formerly In Fact Daily). 

The City of Austin’s General Fund ended fiscal year 2013 with a $14.2 million surplus. That figure amounts to a roughly 1 percent variance from projections made by city staff.

Despite the positive figure, Austin’s Chief Financial Officer Elaine Hart told members of the Council’s Audit and Finance Committee Wednesday that management was not planning on coming forward with a mid-year budget adjustment.

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Austin City Council
8:26 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Austin Council Update: EMS Contract OK’d, Trails Kept Open 24 Hours, and an Airport Pet Hotel

Austin-Travis County EMS had their first civil service contract approved today.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

Update: Austin City Council members unanimously approved a rental registration program early this morning (Items 11, 12).

Council members were considering two different proposals. One would have required the owners of rental property in certain areas of the city to register. But the proposal the council approved will require rental properties with multiple health and safety violations to be registered – no matter where the properties are located in the city.

The program requires properties on the registration list to be periodically inspected.

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City Budget
3:21 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Austin City Budget Restores $1 Million for Youth Programs

After founding Prime Time, an after-school progrma, Austin Interfaith fought for its continued funding.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

This week, the Austin City Council approved a $3.3 billion budget of for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts in October.

As part of the deal, they increased funding for youth programs by over $1 million. That includes an increase in the Austin School District afterschool program, Prime Time, which was started by Austin Interfaith in the 1990s. 

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City Budget
2:23 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

2014 Austin City Budget Holds Line on Tax Rate (Update)

The Austin City Council may need three full days for budget adoption this year.
Liang Shi for KUT News

Update: For the first time since 2007, the Austin City Council has voted to lower the city’s property tax rate. The council finalized the fiscal year 2014 budget this afternoon.

Granted, the tax rate hasn’t fallen by much: two-hundredths of a penny (from 50.29 to 50.27 cents) for every $100 dollars of valuation. For the owner of a $200,000 home, that amounts to a savings of 40 cents a year. Mayor Lee Leffingwell had pressed for a bigger cut.

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City Budget
10:00 am
Tue September 10, 2013

How the Hyde Park Flag Store is Impacting Austin's City Budget

The Hyde Park Market, photographed in 2010. The city’s Code Compliance department briefly forced the store to remove its flags before its decision was reversed.
flickr.com/cote

The Austin City Council returns to the dais as 10 a.m. this morning to finalize the city's Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

Yesterday, council members voted unanimously to hold the line of property tax rates. They also spent most of the day funding initiatives that weren't in City Manager Marc Ott's initial budget proposal.

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Austin
4:52 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

How Do Austin Property Taxes Compare Statewide?

Austin has a lower property tax rate than many other major cities - but that doesn't tell the whole story.
Travis County Appraisal District

Of the six largest cities in Texas, Austin is the one with the lowest property tax rate. But does that tell the whole story?

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Police
5:08 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Budget Battle Over Austin Police: Does APD Have Enough Detectives?

With a new city budget, argument over funding for public safety takes center stage again.
Wells Dunbar, KUT News

Every budget year, public safety – police, fire and EMS – take the biggest chunk of money from the funds used to finance city services. Today, Austin City Council Member Bill Spelman asked if the city was getting a good return on its investment.

The Austin City Council is considering the city budget for the next fiscal year. And the Austin Police Department was among the groups presenting budget requests to the council today. Police Chief Art Acevedo spent over an hour discussing the city manager's proposed city budget – which preserves Austin’s informal policy of two police officers for every thousand Austin residents.

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City Budget
2:20 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

'Not Able to Keep Up:' Taxes, Fees Rise in Austin's Proposed City Budget

Construction cranes are a familiar sight in Austin nowadays. But despite record development revenue, taxes and fees will likely rise for Austin residents.
flickr.com/dingatx

A proposed budget for the City of Austin has the cost of living on the rise – again.

The proposed city budget for 2014, unveiled today, would mean about a $4 monthly increase for owners of a $185,000 home. And that doesn’t include additional rate and fee changes.

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Austin
2:34 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

KUT News Tries Out Austin's 'Budget in a Box'

It's time to play everyone's favorite game!

The city's Budget in a Box gives folks outside city hall a chance to learn about the city's budgeting process, then try on the shoes of a city budgeter, cutting, padding and managing programs and agencies that keep the city humming along.

KUT News acquired a copy of the game and we gave a two reporters and a few interns the chance to give the budgeting process the old college try. Click the video below to see how we fared.

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Austin
8:02 am
Thu May 2, 2013

Money Talk: Austin City Council to Hear Budget Needs Today

Not all the action in City Hall today centers on City Council: the Charter Revision Committee is set to recommend a scheme for future elections.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

The Austin City Council begins budget talks today after hearing a financial forecast for the city two weeks ago. This morning, the council will discuss budget presentations by city departments.

For the first time, those presentations are available for everyone to watch on the city’s YouTube channel. The city also included a video describing how revenue from taxes and utilities equate to city services.

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City Budget
5:20 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

That’s a Whole Lot of PowerPoint: Austin’s 2014 Budget Videos Play Out Over 200 Wonky Minutes

The City of Austin has released 20 vidoes to try and make their budgeting process more transparent and engaging. This graph represents the budget and number of city employees.
City of Austin

The City of Austin’s trying something different this budget season: City department officials have made 20 videos that clock in at over 200 minutes, available on the city's YouTube channel.

The videos include everything from a basic overview of how revenue from taxes and utilities equate to city services, to a 25-minute financial forecast of public utility Austin Water. Each department’s financial forecast presentation is available online, so anyone who wants the lowdown on, say, the Public Works department, can get it.

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City Hall Hustle
4:17 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

City Hall Hustle: Hazy Outlook for Austin in 2014 City Budget

Contract negotiations with Austin’s public safety responders cloud a complete picture of the 2014 budget.
Polcie photo Nathan Bernier; EMS photo Daniel Reese; Fire photo Callier Hernandez

Last week, the Austin City Council got its first look at the numbers for next year’s budget.

The financial outlook? Well … we’ll get back to you about that.

The thing is, Austin’s currently negotiating its three public safety contracts – police, fire and EMS. And budget staff call those contracts a wild card in the city’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

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Austin
3:28 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

APD: 250 More Cops by 2017?

Austin Police are teeing up their budget request to the City Council.
Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Austin Police Department is recommending the city hire as many as 250 more officers by 2017 to meet population growth. The suggested number came from a study by the Police Executive Research Forum.

Austin follows a rough ratio of two officers per thousand residents as a staffing guideline. Currently there’s just over 1,700 APD officers meeting the staffing guideline. 

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Austin City Council
5:16 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

City Council Allocates Austin's $14 Million Budget Surplus (Update)

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole offers her thoughts on the budget to her colleagues.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

Update: In a protracted and somewhat testy meeting, the Austin City Council budgeted and allocated the sum of the city’s $14 million budget surplus.

The day’s big winner? Affordable housing initiatives, which were earmarked for $10 million. Wildfire fuel mitigation received a little over $1 million, the Child Inc. after-school program received $557,000, and a pilot program for 24 hour patrol of the Hike & Bike Trail received $350,000. You can view a complete list of the council’s actions.

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Austin City Council
3:02 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Nothing But Net Revenues: Here's Your City Council Budget Brackets

Mayor Lee Leffingwell thinks funding for some initiatives is a slam dunk.
Flickr user mvongrue, http://bit.ly/12nQ9Ck; Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

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.

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City Budget
4:29 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

Council Passes City Budget, But the Mayor's Not Happy

Mayor Lee Leffingwell voiced his displeasure with the city budget's property tax rate today.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

The Austin City Council has approved a $3.1 billion budget for the next fiscal year. Coming after hours of discussion, which began at a meeting yesterday, the final vote was six to one. Mayor Lee Leffingwell was the lone vote against the budget.

“My intention is to vote no as a symbol, an an acknowledgment hopefully, that we could have done better,” Mayor Leffingwell said prior to the vote. “I’m not going to let this be a unanimous vote that the entire council approve this budget with a huge, a large spending increase.” Leffingwell surprised his colleagues yesterday by calling for a two percent across the board cut to most departments in the city’s general fund, excluding the public safety departments.  That proposal failed on a similar six to one margin, with only the mayor voting aye.

At the meeting today, council member Bill Spelman said it was too late in the process for revisions like those Leffingwell proposed.

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City Budget
2:53 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

With Across the Board Cut Nixed, Slow Going on City Budget

At today's budget deliberation. Mayor Leffingwell's proposal for a two percent departmental cuts was a non-starter
KUT News

Any hopes for a quick adoption of the City of Austin’s annual city budget went out the window this morning, as a proposal from Mayor Lee Leffingwell for a flat two percent cut to departmental budgets created a heated discussion among City Council members.

Citing the impact of a proposed 2.2 cent increase to property taxes – just short of the maximum increase allowed by state law without a special election – Mayor Leffingwell called for a two percent cut to most of the city’s general fund departments, which would create approximate savings of $4.5 million. A 2.2 cent property tax increase would mean an additional $18 each month in city fees and taxes for the owner of a median-valued home (approximately $186,000).

Leffingwell excluded the city’s public safety departments (police, fire and EMS) from the cuts – departments that are the biggest portion of the general fund.

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City Budget
9:14 am
Mon September 10, 2012

City Council Begins Adoption of $3.1 Billion Budget Today

Council members begin bargaining in earnest over the FY 2012-13 budget today.
Callie Hernandez for KUT News

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.

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City Council
9:51 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Sound Off on City Budget, Property Tax Today

A public hearing on the proposed city budget and property tax rate is happening today.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Austin City Council members will hear from residents today about the city’s budget and the proposed property tax rate.

The proposed tax rate is up approximately 2 cents from last year – making it a little over 50 cents per $100 of taxable property value.

Council members are scheduled to adopt the city’s budget next month, in a series of meetings starting Sept. 10. Today’s public hearings are scheduled to start at 10 a.m. in the council chambers, and as always, you can watch the action online.

Council member Bill Spelman is expected to return today, after a medical absence to remove a tumor from his pancreas.

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AM Update: 8/23/12
8:40 am
Thu August 23, 2012

AM Update: APD Wants New Copter, Removing Downtown Benches, KUT Signal Vote

APD wants to a new helicopter like the one pictured, in part, so they can better respond to emergencies like grass fires.
Eurocopter

Austin Police Want New Helicopter, More Staff

The council is set to discuss purchasing a new helicopter for the Austin Police Department today.

The department says its current fleet is old and in need of maintenance and that a new helicopter would enable officers to more quickly respond to some emergencies.

APD also wants council to approve a bigger budget for the department so it can hire more staff.

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