Austin Water, rec centers still dominate city budget
By Wells Dunbar,
3:53PM, Fri. Sep. 2, 2011
City Budget time! By now you’ve hopefully paged through our examination of the city budget, coming to the dais Sept. 12. After the jump, a recap of recent citizen input on the omnibus measure, and inklings of what budget adoption may look like.
Longtime local activist Mary Gay Maxwell lead things off, speaking in support of the Austin Recreation Center. “By the way, I’m one of those older Jazzercisers that benefits greatly from going to class at the ARC.”, she said, also supporting keeping the Dottie Jordan rec center open.
Another familiar face, environmental activist Paul Robbins, launched into his regular questioning of Water Treatment Plant No. 4’s impact on utility rates, after grousing he hadn’t heard back from the city on costs associated with holding a meeting at the plant site, including costs associated with the infamous WTP4 polos. “I’m really jealous because I was not offered one of these shirts,” said Robbins, “… and I want to get one.” (Looks like it’s yours, Paul, for the low, low cost of $20.97.) You can start slogging through the video below.
… Expanding on Robbins' claims, ChangeAustin provides video from one of Brian Rodgers’ recent council appearances, hammering his recurrent themes of making Austin transplants pay for more infrastructure themselves, instead of more widely ameliorating costs. Arguing to boost connection fees for water and wastewater lines out to developing areas, he argues Austin’s connection fees aren’t in line with other Texas cities. “We’re giving it away, we’re a cheap date.”
… So once the budget makes its way to the dais Sept. 12, what will budget adoption look like? The process has been literally scripted before, traditionally passing out in a matter of hours, if not minutes. That looks less likely this year; as Mike Martinez told us, he anticipates council potentially using the entire three days allotted for adoption, since, in the post-Bulldog era, individual meetings between council members and aides has been scuttled. “I think it's different because of the open meetings issues that we've been through this last year, where we don't meet and discuss items [one on one] prior to open sessions any longer, out of an abundance of caution.” Bill Spelman echoed those themes when the Hustle spoke with him recently, saying “I can’t tell you where the council is [on the budget] because I haven't talked to more than a couple council members about it.”