Austin adopts $5.5 billion budget, the largest in city history. Here's what we know.
The Austin City Council adopted a $5.5 billion budget for next fiscal year. It is the largest budget in city history, officials said.
The budget is funded primarily through property taxes and fees for city services, like water, electricity and trash collection. Every year, the city calculates how much each of those fees must be to generate enough money to support the city’s needs, like public safety, roads, parks and programs like rental assistance.
Wednesday's vote came with approval of the tax rate of 44.58 cents per $100 of taxable value. The property tax rate sets how much homeowners will pay on their annual tax bills.
The overall tax rate will decrease by 1.69 cents per $100 of taxable value, but because property values continue to rise, the average Austin property owner will likely still see a 6.1% increase, or about $102 more a year, on tax bills.
The city’s rates and fees for water, electricity and trash also increased by about $70 a year.
The average Austinite will see a combined 3.6% increase on taxes, rates and fees, totaling about $172 for the year.
Council Member Mackenzie Kelly was the sole no vote on the budget Wednesday.
“My vote against the budget stems from my concerns regarding certain budget items that deviate from our core priorities and don’t align with a back-to-basics approach,” she said. “While I recognize the importance of various services, there are areas where government funding should not be directed.”
For weeks, the city has been combing through city expenses, including those for public safety and to address homelessness.
The budget sets aside $81 million for homelessness response, including money to create a mobile homeless navigation service program, and more than $87 million to support affordable housing programs. Another $2 million in one-time funding will go toward a mental health jail diversion pilot program. Another $1.3 million will go toward a family stabilization grant program, which provides a $1,000-a-month stipend to 85 families for one year.
The city also set aside $1 million to conduct a study into burying power lines — a move the City Council requested after the latest ice storm. And another $6.1 million in one-time funding will help pay to install generators in city buildings in the event of another weather emergency.
The fiscal year begins Oct. 1, when the city can begin using the newly adopted budget.