The Daily Hustle: 9/7/10

The budget laid bare

Seats that will likely be empty Sept. 14
Seats that will likely be empty Sept. 14 (Photo courtesy City of Austin)

It's (most likely) Budget Week here at Hustle HQ, as we prep for City Council's adoption of the massive package next Monday, September 13.

But how does budget adoption work? you ask. Well, the council traditionally schedules three days to read and adopt the budget, on three readings. However, as is often done in chambers, it may be passed on all three readings in one fell swoop, but this requires a supermajority of council.

Usually, the budget is passed out on one day, with most of the horse trading accomplished before the readings. The Hustle's seen canned, state-required language, scripts for the council to offer their amendments with, and in one particularly galling instance from the late-Toby era, theme music blaring into chambers upon passage of the budget.

But what will this budget look like? Responding to council direction, Marc Ott proposed a budget well below the rollback rate, at 45.71 cents. While collecting $13.5 million more than the previous year, and, in tandem with some budget-scrubbing, bringing Austin out of a projected budget deficit, the rate obviously leaves room to go higher, raising the question of whether there's still some unfunded council priorities that could make for drama on the dais.

“You will see some discussions,” says Sheryl Cole, “but we don't have big fights on the dais, and I don't think we will.” Instead, it sounds like the council is endeavoring to address unmet needs within the tax rate Ott's set for them, looking to make tweaks to department budgets while working with the proposed funding. For example, one piece of low-hanging fruit is funding for the Trail of Lights that looks likely to be scrapped, but folded back into the Parks budget for additional, needed maintenance.

What the hell else is happening?

On the city calendar: The MBE/WBE and Small Business Enterprise Procurement Program Advisory Committee meets in the Board and Commission room at City Hall, 310 W. Second, 5:30pm.

The Zoning and Platting Commission meets in Council Chambers, 6pm.

And from Res Publica, the Chron's community calendar:

PUBLIC MEETING: BUS ROUTE CHANGES Tell Capital Metro what you think of proposed 2011 service changes. Noon-1:30pm at Capital Metro Transit Store, 323 Congress; 4:30-6pm at Tech Ridge Park & Ride, 900 Center Ridge Dr.

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The Daily Hustle, City Council, City Budget, Trail of Lights, budget adoption

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