Austin city manager proposes 2022-23 budget to address staffing shortages and maintain public services

Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk presented his proposed $5 billion budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

In it, Cronk proposed an overall 4% salary increase for civilian staff beginning Oct. 1, 2022, which the city says is the largest increase in more than two decades for librarians, staff at the recreation center, utility line workers, waste collection and road repair crews, community health professionals and many more.

Under Cronk’s proposal, the city says its living wage – the minimum payable to any employee – would increase by 20%, from $15 to $18 an hour, with a longer-term goal to increase, in accordance to recent Council directives. Cronk also wants any employee who has worked for the city for at least a year to receive a one-time retention allowance of up to $1,500 in their paycheck next month.

Homeowners could also see a decrease in taxes paid to the city next year. However, Cronk wants to increase some city rates and fees, such as hydro, garbage service, and transportation user fees in response to rising operating costs as well as increased demands. services for a growing population.

The proposed budget is divided into six categories and some highlights include:

Culture and lifelong learning

  • Combined total funding of $26.6 million for cultural arts, historic preservation and live music based on projected increase in hotel occupancy tax collections
  • $12 million in voter-approved planned capital expenditures for cultural facilities that host creative activities
  • $9.4 million in planned capital expenditures to renovate and expand the Austin History Center
  • $2.5 million one-time funding for the Iconic Venue Fund to support venues and other local tourist destinations displaced due to Austin’s changing economy
  • $402,000 in partial year funding for 7 new positions to expand and improve community access to passport services provided by the Austin Public Library

Mobility

  • $269.2 million in planned capital spending, plus $2.8 million for 21 positions to implement voter-approved mobility projects
  • $3.5 million, including five new positions, for the Project Connect office to represent the City’s role and responsibilities in implementing the Project Connect transit expansion program (funded by the Austin Transit Partnership)
  • $72.5 million in planned capital expenditures to implement the sidewalk plan, including the construction and rehabilitation of our city’s sidewalks
  • $5.1 million for 55 new positions within the Aviation Department to improve customer service and keep pace with rapid growth in passenger traffic at Austin Airport

Economic opportunity and affordability

  • $79.1 million in planned capital expenditures to meet the affordable housing goals set by the Austin Strategic Housing Blueprint
  • $5.4 million for the Department of Small Business and Minority Resources, including 4 new positions to improve support services and improve programs for small businesses, minorities and women-owned businesses
  • $5 million one-time funding for emergency housing assistance
  • One-time funding of $1.25 million for quality of life studies to identify drivers and recommend policy changes to reduce disparities in historically underserved communities
  • $1.6 million to create 18 new positions in seven departments to streamline the City’s capital project development review processes

government that works

  • $10.6 million for Microsoft Office 365 maintenance and subscriptions, an increase of $5.4 million to support citywide compliance with security audit recommendations
  • $9.9 million for the Office of Information Security, including $580,000 one-time funding for citywide security services tools to protect the city’s key technology infrastructure
  • $3.4 million for 42 new positions to improve the company’s financial services, human resources, information technology and real estate services
  • $1.6 million and two dedicated positions, an increase of one, to meet growing demand for Language Access Program services
  • $302,000 in partial year funding for three new positions in the Office of the City Clerk to support City boards and commissions

Health & Environment

  • $11.7 million to maintain and operate 45 aquatic facilities, including an increase of four lifeguard stations to improve safety at Barton Springs Pool
  • $9.9 million in planned capital expenditures for construction of the Dove Springs Public Health Facility, which will house a neighborhood health center, WIC office, daycare and immunization clinic
  • $880,000 for immigrant legal aid services; an increase of $250,000 over the previous year’s funding
  • $4.8 million to clean up homeless encampments in public spaces, under highways and near waterways; an increase of $1.6 million
  • $900,000 to operate the Pet Resource Center, which includes 4 new positions to improve the process of recovering lost pets at the animal shelter

Security

  • $13.1 million for the Department of Forensic Sciences, including an increase of three positions to improve crime scene processing times and quality assurance of evidence collection
  • $11.5 million for the Office of the Fire Marshal, including an increase of 17 positions for additional capacity to ensure fire code compliance and provide site plan review and inspection of development projects
  • $1 million in one-time funding to support the creation of a trauma recovery center
  • $3.2 million for EMS billing services, including 9 new ambulance billing staff positions to address the backlog and keep pace with the growing number of EMS patient bills
  • $1 million in partial-year funding for 13 new positions at Austin Code, including two new Code Inspector positions to expand the Code Connect Line program

Community input meetings are scheduled for July 27 and August 2 with council business sessions on August 9 and 11. The adoption of the budget is scheduled for August 17.

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