Council passes balanced budget for 2016/17 fiscal year

Today the Austin City Council passed a $3.7-billion balanced budget for the 2016/17 Fiscal Year.

“This is a strong budget that balances affordability with our critical needs,” said Mayor Adler.

On affordability, this budget:

  • Increases the homestead exemption to 8% (from 6%)
  • Lowers the property tax rate by 1.78 cents per $100 of taxable value
  • Increases the senior and disabled exemption to $82,500 (from $80,000)
  • Raises minimum wage for City employees to $13.50 an hour
  • Increases transfers to the Housing Trust Fund by $1 million

“With the recent increases in the senior and disabled property tax exemption, the median senior or disabled homeowner will be paying less in property taxes next year than they paid four years ago,” said Mayor Adler.  “This is true even with the increase in housing values since that time.”

Mayor Adler also noted that this budget continues the work the City Council began last year to bend the cost curve by slowing the increase in taxes, fees, and utility rates by 30% from 3.37% in 2014-15 to 2.34% in 2016-17.  The 2.29 percent increase in FY 2017 is the smallest increase in the last five years.

“This Council has cut the growth in taxes, fees, and utilities by 30%. This is one way we can bend the cost curve to help you with affordability,” said Mayor Adler. “We still have work to do because your tax bill goes up even as we lower the tax rate because a booming economy and hot housing market are raising the value of your house. We’re taking an increasingly smaller bite out of a bigger pie.”

Of the $970 million general fund, 70% is for public safety, 22% for community services, and 5% for development services/planning and zoning. The biggest part (55%) of the $56 Million general fund increase is for public safety. To meet Austin’s critical needs, the new budget:

  • Promotes public safety by recognizing a 2-step plan to erase the rape kit and other DNA testing backlog by:
    • APD removing the backlog of untested rape kits with available funds and grants
    • Pays to reopen, staff, equip, and train for a forensic lab that will deal with both rape kits and the other DNA material backlog and will prevent future backlogs
  • Promotes public safety by Implementing a 42-hour work week for EMS by hiring 52 new EMS personnel
  • Promotes public safety by adding over twenty new police officers to the streets and allows for future increases
  • Promotes public safety by continuing the HOST pilot, the inter-department work with the chronically homeless
  • Continues the permanent installation of the Shady Hollow Fire Station
  • Pays a living wage to lifeguards to prevent pool closings due to labor shortages
  • Increases funding to “Housing First” homelessness program by $600,000
  • Funds a Sobriety Center
  • Increases funding for Austin Transportation Department by $2.4 million to improve mobility and signalization and traffic light timing
  • Funds $2.1 million for additional street work
  • Park security lighting
  • Direct funding for music industry and artist/venue preservation ($475K)
  • Upper Onion Creek flood buyouts ($1,200,000)

The budget also begins to address historical inequities by funding over millions for items consistent with the Spirit of East Austin Initiative, including:

  • Infrastructure: Jain Lane and Meadow Lake Blvd final engineering
  • Health: Expands healthy food access and security (including corner store initiatives $500K)
  • Funds after-school and parental-support programs provided by AISD
  • Workforce Training: Capital Idea funded at over $2 Million with this year’s $300K increase
  • Implements Colony Park Sustainable Communities Master Plan
  • Community Engagement Coordinator within HHSD re: Rundberg & Dove Springs place-based planning tool: $51,445
  • Neighborhood Partnering Program enhancement: $60K
  • Sidewalk construction: $3.3 million
  • Home repair funding: $1 million
  • Child Care funding ($175K)
  • Del Valle and Montopolis health assessment
  • Funds the tenant relocation ordinance ($167K)
  • Translation and Language Interpretation Services ($250K as proposed by the Asian American Quality of Life Commission)
  • SNAP outreach and enrollment ($300K)
  • Affordable Health Care Act outreach and enrollment ($300K)
  • A total of over $650K, each, for the initiatives and priorities from the three quality of life commissions (Asian, Hispanic and African American)
  • Funds the Fair Chance Hiring initiative

“This budget accelerates the work to invest in the huge potential in our Eastern Crescent,” said Mayor Adler. “We are by no means done but what this budget shows is that we hear the community loud and clear on what they need, and today they get real results.”


A previous version of this post contained inaccurate information. We apologize for the error.