Austin City Council Approves Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Budget

The Austin City Council has adopted the city’s fiscal year 2019-2020 Budget.

The all-funds budget, which includes enterprise departments as well as the core services provided by the General Fund, totals $4.2 billion and maintains quality services while making targeted investments in core programs and City infrastructure.

Citywide expenditures for FY 2019?20 are 3.8% higher than the prior year. The 2019-20 General Fund budget is $1.1 billion and supports public safety services as well as our parks, libraries, neighborhood health centers, and animal shelter. The Capital Budget includes $1.2 billion in planned spending.

The approved budget assumes a property tax rate of 44.31 cents per $100 of taxable value, an increase of 0.28 cents from the FY 2017-18 tax rate and an 8% increase above the effective Operations and Maintenance rate. The property tax rate is expected to be formally approved on September 25, after property tax rate hearings on September 13 and 19.

With a property tax rate of 44.31 cents the City tax bill for the typical homeowner – defined as the owner of a median-valued ($353,265) non-senior home – would be $1,408.78 per year or $117.40 per month. This would be an increase of $91.71 per year or $7.64 per month.

Typical financial impacts from all-but-two of the City’s core group of broad-based rates and fees, such as water and the Clean Community Fee, have been held steady. Taken together, the combined impact of tax, rate and fee changes would represent an increase, for the typical ratepayer, of 2.9% – an additional $115.47 per year or $9.62 per month.

“This Budget will get us closer to where we want to be on our shared citywide priorities, and will help us advance on the critical issues that will determine our future,” said Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk. “Thanks to Council and the community for taking this important step towards our goals.”

“In the coming year, I plan to launch several initiatives to help us determine how we can best avoid a long-term structural imbalance in our budget as a result of the property tax cap while continuing to provide the exemplary services that our community values and expects.”

Tuesday’s approval of City tax and spending plans for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2019, comes after several months of stakeholder engagement.

This is the second year in which the proposed budget was organized by outcome area, and not strictly by City department, to reflect the priorities of the Austin community, using Council’s adopted Strategic Direction 2023 as a guide. The outcomes are Culture & Lifelong Learning, Economic Opportunity & Affordability, Government That Works for All, Health & Environment, Mobility, and Safety.

Council began their deliberations on Tuesday working from the Manager’s proposed budget, (snapshot summary here) which included:

  • Historic $62.7 million budget in support of ending homelessness in Austin
  • 30 extra police officers and a new Fire/EMS station
  • $42 million of planned spending from the 2018 affordable housing bond
  • Hotel Occupancy Tax spending of $12.8 million in support of cultural arts and another $11.9 million spent in support of historic preservation.
  • $12.8 million for the Parks and Recreation Department’s Aquatics program, including $4.1 million for ongoing maintenance and $1.8 for capital improvements
  • Final phase of the Curbside Compost Collection Program rollout with a budget of $4.5 million
  • $10.8 million for sidewalk improvements

Over the course of today, Council added to the City Manager’s Proposed Budget an extra $4.6 million in new spending – including an additional $550,000 towards tackling homelessness. This was offset by $2.5 million in new property tax revenue resulting from the certified tax roll and elimination of $2.1 million in funding for Austin Fire Department’s proposed Command Tech program.
The additional Budget commitments included funding for: 

  • Additional community health paramedics, expansion of EMCOT, and dispatcher training to improve responses to 9-1-1 mental health calls
  • A pay increase for City open-water lifeguards to $16 per hour
  • Extra resources for homeless encampment cleanups
  • Logistical and support services for Austin residents seeking abortion care
  • Outreach to help get a complete count in the 2020 Census
  • Relationship violence crisis intervention
  • Increased investment in Austin’s workforce training
  • Wildfire mitigation
  • Earlier staffing for a fire station in Del Valle/Moore’s Crossing while a permanent station is completed

Council also added an additional $90,000 to the reserve fund.

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