The Austin City Council has adopted a fiscal year 2018-2019 Budget that goes into effect October 1, 2018. The all-funds budget, which includes enterprise departments as well as the core services provided by the General Fund, totals $4.1 billion – a 4% increase from the prior year.
Tuesday's approval comes after several months of stakeholder engagement, including meetings in every Council district and two public hearings.
This year, in a significant departure from the past, the budget was organized by outcome rather than City department to reflect the priorities of the Austin community, using Council’s newly adopted Strategic Direction 2023 as a guide.
“The approved Budget follows months of engagement, discussion and debate and reflects the priorities of the Council and, I believe, the community,” said Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk. “It authorizes the City of Austin to invest in affordable housing, tackle homelessness, build fire stations, hire police officers, and improve streets and sidewalks, while ensuring the community continues to receive great value, world class City services. From here we can move forward and begin the important work that Mayor and Council have asked us to deliver, to make Austin an even better place for all our residents.”
The property tax rate within the new budget is 44.03 cents per $100 of taxable property value, a decrease of 0.45 cents from the FY 2017-18 tax rate and a 5.45% increase above the effective Operations and Maintenance rate.
With the approved property tax rate of 44.03 cents per $100 of taxable value, the City tax bill for the typical homeowner - defined as the owner of a median-valued non-senior home - will be $1,317.07 per year or $109.76 per month. This is an increase of $66.87 per year or $5.58 per month.
Typical financial impacts from all-but-one of the City’s core group of broad-based rates and fees, such as water and electric service, have been reduced or held steady. In total, the annual impact for the typical residential ratepayer from these charges will be an increase of $10.44, or $0.87 per month.
Taken together, the combined impact of tax, rate and fee changes will represent an increase, for the typical ratepayer, of 2% - an additional $77.31 per year or $6.44 per month.
Council began their deliberations on Tuesday working from the Manager’s proposed budget, which included:
An increase in the general homestead exemption from 8% to 10%
Full funding for the Housing Trust Fund via a total transfer of $5.3 million, a $3.1 million increase
$2.4 million of new funding for homelessness programs, building on $26.3 million in on-going expenditures
$5.7 million for 33 police officers and equipment, bringing the total number of officers to 1,929
An initial $5.4 million for two new fire stations at Moore’s Crossing and Travis Country. $1.7 million including 16 fire fighters and equipment for the new Onion Creek Station, bringing the total number of sworn fire personnel to 1,197 and the number of fire stations to 49
$119,000 for 2 new victim services counselors, which brings total program staffing to 29 positions
Projected spending of $67.7 million on the 2012 and 2016 Mobility Bond projects, including sidewalks, bike lanes, urban trails, and safety improvements, and Council adopted Corridor Construction Program
$11.2 million for the Historic Preservation Fund, funded from Hotel Occupancy Taxes
$1.1 million for disease prevention, public health, and translation services
$1.8 million in aquatic maintenance, bringing the total Aquatics activity budget to $10.7 million
Living wage increase from $13.84 per hour to $15.00, achieving Council’s goal a year early.
Over the course of today, Council added to the City Manager’s Proposed Budget an increase in the senior/disabled homestead exemption – by $2,500 to $88,000, an extra $1 million for homelessness, an additional $1.1 million for the Extended Mobile Crisis Outreach Team (EMCOT) to help individuals with mental illness, and additional funding for parent support specialists, victim services and relationship violence programs.
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