A Week in the Life of Budget Deliberations

Divvying up the pot

After a day and a half of meandering but often intense discussion Monday and Tuesday – and into Wednesday morning, Council began making rapid-fire but still tentative spending decisions, essentially focusing on the $5.5 million or so from the proposed budget in currently uncommitted General Funds. Working from an abruptly surfaced checklist drafted by Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo, District 2 Council Member Delia Garza, and D4 CM Greg Casar – itself evoking some raised eyebrows from colleagues – the CMs worked to winnow a list of potential expenditures – growing on the dais to about $9 million total by late Tuesday – back within the parameters of the moneys actually available.

(Another cautionary note: On Monday, Deputy Chief Financial Officer Ed Van Eenoo reported that estimated sales tax revenues, upon which these numbers depend, had swung downward in the last month, and might swing more following Hurricane Harvey – meaning spending decisions made this week might well be revisited in the new year.)

A selection of items under consideration:

Increases to Be Considered

• Austin ISD Parent Support Specialists: $1 million

• Homelessness Services: $590,000

• Public Health contracts: $700,000

• Living wage increase, temp employees: $490,000

Reductions to Be Considered

• AFD overtime adjustments: $255,000

• PARD offset from hotel occupancy tax reallocation: $280,000

This is a partial list (current as of 3:30pm Wednesday, just before Chronicle deadlines), and could be obsolete by the time you read it, but it gives a reasonable sense of the kinds of budget amendments under consideration. Council has added a potential fourth reading day Thursday (Sept. 14), if there remains work to be done. And some of these decisions (e.g., the HOT revenue reallocation) will likely remain pending until later in the year.

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Budget, Kathie Tovo, Greg Casar, Delia Garza, Ed Van Eenoo, City Council

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