The budget Council has approved is responsible, innovative and focused on equitable solutions. It embodies the priorities and character of Austin, with investments in arts and music, affordability and mobility, public safety and making chronic homelessness a thing of the past. The budget accomplishes all of this while preserving city service affordability for residents and homeowners.
State leadership has made this kind of budget very difficult to achieve in the future. While tying the hands of cities with revenue caps, the legislature has also opted not to promote or fund statewide solutions for major challenges that affect major cities, including homelessness. We remain hopeful that state leadership may yet consider help for Texas cities as other states have recently done.
In the meantime, our budget will take on sexual assault and mental health services and execute the solutions promised by the 2018 affordable housing bond. It improves the transparency and accountability of community policing and assists arts and music groups in danger of being displaced.
August 5, 2019 — The proposed city budget announced today represents an historic investment to accelerate our response to homelessness. At an increase of $17M over last year — or a total of $62.7M — it’s a bold step that I hope will ally the business, faith, neighborhood, and non-profit communities to join us in action and purpose. Homelessness is the priority and the moment is now.
This budget substantially expands public safety spending — with specific emphasis on sexual assault and mental health — while maintaining affordability with only a 2.5% total increase in combined city taxes and energy, water and other city utility fees.
State leadership and the legislature have made this kind of budget very difficult in the future. We have a year to figure this out. Maybe the State will help us with the cost of responding to homelessness, just as California committed $650 million in targeted assistance to its cities a month ago.
The announcement of Lori Pampilo-Harris as Austin’s first Homeless Strategy Officer is like the cavalry coming over the hill. She has a unique moment to align the city, businesses, neighborhoods, and non-profits to address our concerns both for people and places.