He's Got a Little List
Key highlights and lowlights of the proposed city budget
Public safety: Sixty-six new officers for the Austin Police Dept.; a new command district and two new stations for EMS; opening Harris Ridge fire station. Also $7.5 million to APD and $3.8 million to AFD for their respective Meet and Confer raises.
Health and social services: The new men's homeless shelter has been delayed a year, but the new women's and children's shelter (the old SafePlace shelter) and the temporary men's shelter in the Warehouse District will both be open. The budget also includes more money for indigent health care, both to cover newly annexed Del Valle and to cover rising across-the-board costs. And Neighborhood Housing will see another $3 million in its Housing Trust Fund.
Parks and libraries: PARD is losing eight Roving Leader positions -- four of which were approved by council last year but never filled -- while Austin Public Library is losing 17 currently vacant jobs, including two youth services librarians and two Wired for Youth librarians. However, PARD and APL are also adding staff to open their new facilities in the St. Johns multipurpose center.
Planning and growth management: Neighborhood Planning and Zoning will continue to have three vacant positions, even as it's supposed to get more plans done than in prior years. The now-thrice-renamed Transportation, Planning and Sustainability Dept. (arrgh!) loses no people but lots of funds for consultants, while Watershed Protection and Development Review stays flat and Public Works adds new personnel to maintain and repair the streets. The transportation "user fee" -- the line item on your utility bill -- goes up by 5%.
Utilities: Water rates are set to go up 7%, and wastewater rates 4.5%, though the exact amounts -- which vary by customer class -- were still undetermined at press time. Solid Waste Services plans a major increase (18.2%) to the minor Anti-Litter Fee, and while the Drainage Fee itself isn't going up, Watershed Protection is changing the way it's calculated, which may drive it up for commercial customers. Electric rates stay the same.
Other enterprise funds: Both the Convention Center expansion and the new Palmer Community Events Center are scheduled to open in FY 2002, and the Convention Center department plans to hire 74 people. Aviation is adding back-office personnel -- and brings to full time the coordinator of Bergstrom's weekly music performances.
Support services: Information Systems gets, among other staff and contractors, a full-time anti-hacker position; Human Resources creates the city's first corporate-wide safety office; the Telecom office (within the city's finance office) eliminates its funding for computer labs at Travis and Reagan High Schools; and the city clerk's budget includes $771,000 for running the 2002 City Council elections.