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Your Property Tax and Utility Bills Would Increase Under Proposed City Budget

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Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News
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City budget director Leslie Browder, presents the proposed budget to council members at Austin City Hall.

Austin city manager Marc Ott unveiled a proposed $2.8 billion budget to council members today. It includes an increase in property taxes, energy and water fees, pay raises for city staff, and $6.9 million in spending cuts and new revenues.

City council members will evaluate the plan, make any changes they think are necessary, and move to adopt it in September. Expect public hearings between now and then.

The first volume of the budget document alone is 665 pages. Do you have time to read that? We didn’t think so.  Here are some of the highlights:

City Workers

Civilian employees would receive a two percent pay increase.  Uniformed employees, like police and fire fighters, would get a three percent pay increase, which is a contractual obligation under their collective bargaining agreements.

Property Taxes

Property taxes would be increased by 2.52 cents to 48.23 cents per $100 in valuation. The owner of a $200,000 home would pay an extra $50.40 per year.  The city estimates the median residential property tax bill to be $879, an increase of $2.97 per month.

Austin Energy

The public utility would impose a new 12 percent system wide rate increase on your power bill, adding an average of $10.91 for a typical residential customer.

Austin Water

Customers would pay a new “water sustainability fee” of $8.33 per month. It would be waived for low-income residents.

Public Safety

The Austin Police Department would add 49 police officers. Those would be in addition to the 48 added last year. The city would also hire 18 new EMS paramedics on top of the 42 hired in the 2010-11 budget.

Millions in budget Cuts

City staff identified $6.9 million in budget cuts and additional revenue. These are the major reductions in each department.

The numbers don't add up, because we're not including every little thing. But you can read the full details here.

Austin Police Department (approx. $2.8 million budget reduction)

  • Delay the start of the next cadet academy by six months
  • Reduce police overtime by $1 million to $8.3 million/year

Fire (approx. $400,000 budget reduction)

  • Reduce recruiting budget by $112,000
  • Reducing clothing replacement budget by $100,000
  • Eliminate one full time position for to public education like fire safety training, leaving 3.75 positions for those activities

EMS (approx. $400,000 budget reduction)

  • Freeze five training positions originally added to budget in 2009-10
  • Freeze funding for part-time Associate Medical Director (Travis County will add this position in its 2011-12 budget)
  • Various other minor reductions to “contractual and commodity accounts”

Municipal Court (approx. $100,000 budget reduction)

  • Eliminate a vacant legal secretary position
  • Various other minor reductions to “contractual and commodity accounts”

Parks and Recreation (approx. $800,000 budget reduction)

  • Convert Austin Recreation Center (ARC) to rental/lease facility to generate $100,000 in  lease income.
  • ARC Employees will be redeployed to other recreation centers
  • Close the Balcones and Dick Nichols pools in the winter
  • Reducing supervised programs at playgrounds from 27 sites to 10 in summer of 2012
  • Eliminate 1.5 vacant full time positions

Library (approx. $800,000 budget reduction)

  • Cut to books and materials budget
  • Reduce hours at Faulk Central Library by 8 hours a week
  • Eliminate 4.63 full time positions

Health and Human Services (approx. $900,000 budget reduction)

  • Eliminate Food Manager Training and Certification Program and one associated full time position in favor of internet training program.
  • Eliminate four full time positions, including three in records management
  • Eliminate $200,000 in un-allocated social service funds

Planning and Development Review (approx. $600,000 budget reduction)

  • Eliminate six positions, two of which are vacant. Other employees will be reassigned
  • Reduce budget for concrete testing by $140,000