City Budget

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.

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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City Council
10:19 am
Wed August 15, 2012

Watch the City Council Debate November's Bond Package

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole is leading a discussion on the November bond package this morning.
City of Austin

The Austin City Council was posted to discuss the city budget this morning, but they are also posted to weigh in on items for November's bond election. And after yesterday's split votes regarding the bond package, and a tight Aug. 20 deadline to finalize the items for election, council is using today's meeting to wade back into bond discussions. 

You can watch the council's work on the bond package online on the City of Austin's website

9:11 am
Wed August 15, 2012

Council Takes Up City Budget This Morning

Lead in text: 
The Austin City Council is starting a work session this morning devoted to the city's annual budget. Along with a budget briefing, the council will also set the maximum tax rate it's considering this year, which it is free to go below when the budget is adopted in September. You can read more about City Manager Marc Ott's proposed budget at the link.
A 2.2 cent property tax increase and additional raises to utility rates and city fees means the median Austin homeowner will paying an additional $18 each month in city fees and taxes, as laid out in the proposed city budget for Fiscal Year 2013.
City Council
9:02 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Ballot, Bond and Budget: City Council’s Busy Week

These seats won't be empty for long: With November elections, the city budget and regular business to attend to, council has a busy week.
Wells Dunbar, KUT News

The Austin City Council kicks off another three-fer this week – two work sessions and a full Thursday meeting – that will set the ballot for November’s city charter and bond elections.

Today, the council holds a work session previewing its Thursday meeting. But also on the agenda are several items pertaining to this November’s election. One item would let voters approve terms under which the city could sell or lease portions of Austin Energy properties, like the utility’s stake in the coal-burning Fayette Power Plant. That initiative has already received two affirmative votes, so only one more vote is required to add the measure to the crowded November ballot.

Another item would place a charter amendment on the ballot authorizing the council to create an independent board to oversee city-owned utilities such as Austin Energy. No vote has been taken on the measure yet, and with council member Bill Spelman’s potentially decisive vote absent from the dais, it’s uncertain whether the council is ready to approve the item.

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10:32 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Taxes, Fees Rise in Proposed City Budget

Daniel Reese for KUT News

A 2.2 cent property tax increase and additional raises to utility rates and city fees means the median Austin homeowner will paying an additional $18 each month in city fees and taxes, as laid out in City Manager Marc Ott’s proposed city budget for Fiscal Year 2013.

The 2.2 cent property tax increase is higher than the 1.8 cent increase the city originally forecast in April, when it began work on the city budget. According to the City Budget Officer, Ed Van Eenoo, the reason for the boost is a half-billion dollar difference between the Travis County Tax Assessor’s April estimate of the tax rolls, and the certified tax roll delivered in July.

The city's current tax rate is 48.11 cents for every $100 of property value . But without the increase the city budget would see a $17.8 million shortfall as currently written.

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City Council
2:01 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

City Council Back With a Three-Peat This Week

The city council faces a full schedule on its first week back.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

After nearly a month off the Austin City Council is getting down to business, with three major meetings this week.

The fun starts Tuesday, as the council convenes for a work session. Instituted last year in the wake of alleged open meetings act violations, normally Tuesday work sessions are a chance for members to vet topics they’ll consider at their regular Thursday meetings. But this Tuesday’s meeting includes potential action on two long-simmering issues:

Discussion of November 2012 election matters and potential direction to staff.

This item could include matters related to the anticipated November bond election. 

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City Budget
4:42 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

Proposed City Budget: $25 Million in Unmet Needs, Even With Property Tax Increase

Offsetting housing cuts and expediting development services are two prominent topics in budget talks.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

The city is proposing a 1.8 cent increase in property taxes. That’s just a hair under the maximum increase allowed – 1.85 cents – without a special tax election.

That’s one of the findings in the City of Austin’s preliminary, proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2013, presented to the City Council this morning.

Going off current median home values – approximately $182,000, but due to change once the county sets new property valuations – that’s a $33 annual increase.

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11:45 am
Tue February 21, 2012

The City Task Force Facing a Billion Dollar Decision

In addition to the task force's work, the city is looking for online input on the bond development process.
Photo by KUT News

It turns out compiling a $1.5 billion wish list of city projects was the easy part.

Last week KUT reported about the massive “needs assessment” City of Austin departments compiled with an eye towards this November’s bond election: millions of dollars for projects including development of the Waller Creek riverwalk downtown, new police and fire stations, and open space acquisition.

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5:13 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

The City of Austin’s $1.5 Billion Wish List

$50 million in I-35 improvements are included among a "needs assessment" from city departments.
Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

While most of the chatter over Austin’s November bond election has revolved around urban rail and medical schools, those aren’t the only potential items on the ballot. In fact, they’re only a fraction of them.

We got a reminder of that this week when city departments presented a “needs assessment” to the Bond Election Advisory Task Force, a citizen task force created to recommend what makes it onto the ballot.

What is a needs assessment? Essentially, it’s a wish list from city departments outlining projects and initiatives they would like to undertake. The proposals are then weighted by need and urgency, and also compared against a set of values (cost-effectiveness, geographic balance, environmental protection, and more). Omnibus projects like rail or a med school would be considered separately from these departmental proposals.

While there’s no guarantee any of the below projects will make it before voters in their present form,  the list offers a revealing look at how city departments rank their priorities. So what’s on this massive, $1,500,000,000 wish list? We break it down below, highlighting the biggest proposals in each department:

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News Brief
5:47 am
Tue September 13, 2011

Top Morning Stories September 13, 2011

Bastrop County officials say the Bastrop Complex fire is now 70 percent contained.
Photo by KUT News.

Update 10:08 a.m.

Texas Parks & Wildlife says there is a misperception that Bastrop State Park is open to the public today. The TPWD says the park is not open and will stay closed (from Gottier Trace and Park Road 1C to the west) at least through October while wildfire damages are assessed.

Disaster Recovery Center Opening in Bastrop

Starting today people affected by the Bastrop County wildfires can meet face to face with state and federal disaster recovery officials. Representatives from the state, FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration will help people get registered for aid. The new Disaster Recovery Center will be open every day of the week. 

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News Brief
5:34 am
Tue May 24, 2011

Top Morning Stories May 24, 2011

The City of Austin has released a menu of possible budget cuts for its 2011-2012 budget to close a $9.8 million budget gap.
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News.

City of Austin Releases Budget Cut Options

The City of Austin has released a menu of possible budget cuts for 2011-2012. The items on the table include: reducing hours at the Faulk Central Library, closing some neighborhood pools, delaying the hiring of 47 new police officers, and only hiring certified firefighters to cut hiring and training time. 

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