Under Austin’s proposed budget for next year, the typical Austin homeowner will get a reduction in city property taxes, but pay more in utility rates and user fees.
The overall impact, as presented Friday by Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk, is an expected average increase of $120, a 2.7% increase from this year. The increase will increase further, by an amount the city has yet to reveal, if Austin voters in the November election approve a potential $300 million housing bond. Soon, possibly this month, the Austin City Council will vote on whether to add the housing obligation measure to the ballot.
Cronk’s budget is just a draft, serving as a roadmap for members of the Austin City Council, who will meet next month to add and subtract before approving a final version. But if the story holds, the final document will look like Cronk’s original proposal.
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For the typical Austin home — defined as a non-senior residence worth $448,000 — the annual taxes and fees the homeowner would pay to the city would be $4,616. For Texas residents, most of their property tax bill goes to their local school district, not the city.
Although property assessments in Austin have risen from last year, the city estimates the typical homeowner will pay $110 less in municipal property taxes, as city council result increases impact of exemptions on family properties . Additionally, under state law, the city can raise property tax revenue by just 3.5 percent without voter approval to go higher.
Overall, Cronk’s budget is $5 billion, 10% more than this year. The general fund — which includes most discretionary spending — is $1.3 billion.
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To combat employee attrition — a problem in many city departments — Cronk proposed a 4% pay raise, plus, for employees who have been with the city for a year, a one-time stipend of up to $1,500 . This allowance includes sworn employees — police, fire, and EMS — who, unlike civilian employees, have employment contracts and typically have to negotiate with the city for higher pay.
A recent report compiled by the city found an average vacancy rate of 17% citywide, with nearly 1,900 unsworn positions vacant over nine months.
The city will raise the minimum wage for its employees from $15 an hour to $18 an hour. That’s less than the $22 an hour community members had asked for, but Cronk hinted at a long-term goal of going higher.
“The simple truth is that we currently don’t have the staff we need to provide the services we need to,” Cronk said during a presentation Friday at the Montopolis Recreation and Community Center.
Additional highlights of the proposed budget include:
- To better respond to catastrophic events, such as the February 2021 winter freeze, the city is proposing eight new substations for a dedicated distribution facility and nine new substations to support resilience hubs. For wildfire mitigation, the Austin Fire Department will receive $15.1 million.
- Homeless services are budgeted at $79 million, compared to $72 million planned for this year and $74 million spent last year. All three totals include state and federal money. The increase covers additional expenses for camp cleaning services, public toilets and other initiatives to manage public spaces.
- The police budget is $444 million, up $1 million from this year’s amended budget, and it appears to be in line with a state law that punishes cities for cutting police spending. the police.
- Plans to add 55 jobs to improve customer service at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.