The Austin Chronicle

City Budget Crunch

Our discount 'menu'

By Wells Dunbar, June 26, 2009, News

Earlier this month, City Manager Marc Ott released the Fiscal Year 2010 Menu of Potential Budget Reductions, a 358-page document detailing more than 240 recommendations to bridge the city's $30 million to $43 million budget shortfall. As an aid to readers, we've reproduced the general categories the proposals have been grouped in, with added emphasis on cuts or increases affecting the General Fund, which pays for core city services, and in most departments, we've tried to highlight the most controversial cuts. The full menu, along with several other budget documents, is available online at Download the city budget summary by department (PDF) here.

General Fund Departments Totals and Highlights

Emergency Medical Services: $1,648,405

$250,000: Reduce overtime with flextime for uniformed positions.

$244,875: Reduce Austin Community College program by eliminating five vacant cadet positions and tuition reimbursement.

$129,889: Reduce overtime with new delivery model for continuing education for paramedics: more on-duty training and online resources.

Fire: $4,489,725

$1,234,975: Replace two engines with medical response units.

$460,530: Eliminate four unfilled investigator positions.

$118,080: Discontinue LBJ Fire Academy.

Health & Human Services: $2,912,846

$1,105,987: Reduce or eliminate unallocated funding to social service contracts.

$298,777: Transfer Summer Youth Employment Program to Workforce Solutions through federal stimulus funding.

$205,693: Close the second day-labor site.

$80,000: Use donations for feral cat sterilization and pet microchipping.

Library: $1,782,641

$354,762: Open branch libraries an hour later.

$351,855: Close branch libraries an hour earlier.

$155,292: Reduce the systemwide book budget.

$130,692: Reduce Faulk Central Library's operating hours by eight hours per week.

Municipal Court: $943,628

$400,000: Eliminate nominal, optional payment made to jurors.

$270,562: Increase early-parking fines by $5, from $15 to $20.

$205,914: Cuts to Downtown Austin Community Court, including substance-abuse services and Project Recovery.

$84,240: Reduce interpreter costs by appointing a Spanish-speaking associate judge for central booking.

Neighborhood Planning & Zoning: $388,305

$388,305 Transfer employees, eliminate vacant positions, and reduce office expenses.

Parks & Recreation: $2,757,739

$1,341,990: Recognize savings from recently annexed Anderson Mills to maintain and operate its own parks and recreation facilities.

$250,000: Offset Trail of Lights Festival expense with an admission fee.

$110,000: Eliminate supervised playground programs at 11 low-attendance sites near other supervised playgrounds.

$50,700: Close seven wading and "fill and draw" pools.

$36,000: Close two low-attendance public pools.

Police: $8,707,398

$5,231,933: Delay scheduled cadet training by one year, hold 10% vacancies in patrol, and backfill additional patrol vacancies with officers from specialized units.

$1,200,000: Reduce sworn overtime.

$120,000: Bill private promoter of South by Southwest for police services.

Watershed Protection: $1,073,541

$1,073,541: Reduce funding and eliminate several vacant positions.

General Fund Subtotal: $24,704,228

Other City Departments Totals and Highlights

Support Services: $4,177,224

$1,971,709: Financial & Administrative Services

$586,106: Human Resources

$575,264: Law

$335,136: Management Services

$197,878: Small & Minority Business Resources

$153,876: Communications & Public Information

$146,500: Office of the City Auditor

$124,202: City Clerk

$86,553: Government Relations Office

Other: $2,939,094

$2,669,359: Communications & Technology Management

$269,735: Fleet Services

Transfers: $5,947,248

$5,947,248: Reduce General Fund transfers to Capital Projects Management, Neighborhood Housing & Community Development, and Transportation Fund.

Corporate Cost Increases: $7,264,953

$3,700,000: EMS fees (increase approved by City Council).

$2,094,203: Reduce or eliminate service incentive pay.

$1,100,000: Employee furloughs (unpaid leave).

$370,750: Development fees (boost fees on development requirements like inspections, traffic impact analyses, and building plan reviews).

Other City Departments Subtotal: $20,328,519


General Fund Subtotal: $24,704,228


Total Proposed Cuts, Citywide $45,032,747

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