The body also officially set on the November ballot half of the council districts, after a lawsuit failed to require all council members to face re-election after district lines were redrawn. Along with those elections and the mayoral election, voters will see a $350 million bond proposal on their ballots to increase housing subsidies in the city.
For next fiscal year, the budget includes a $300 million increase from last year and lays out a 3.5 percent property tax increase. It proposes a 4 percent wage increase for all civilian city employees along with a $1,500 bonus for those with a year or longer of employment with the city.
The council pay raise increases the mayor’s salary to $134,191 and the council members’ to $116,688. They also approved the elected officials’ use of a $900.12 annual cell phone and a $5,400.20 annual vehicle allowance, along with application of the city-wide incentive pay program.
Three council members — Paige Ellis, Vanessa Fuentes, and Mackenzie Kelly — voted against their pay increase.
The budget provides funding for only a few new hires within the Austin Police Department (APD), which is operating well below not only 2019 staffing levels but current authorization due to lingering attrition and vacancies. This year, the council authorized 1,812 positions — up three from last year but down almost 150 — the number struck in the 2020 budget cut and redirection — from the 2019 amount.
As of July, APD had 259 patrol vacancies, which amounts to 14 percent of its authorized force. Earlier this year, APD Chief Joseph Chacon set a goal to fill 108 of those vacancies.
Various budget riders were approved by the council on Thursday, including $150,000 to “provide education and services focused on sexual and reproductive health and wellness, allowable contraception, and/or service navigation”; $160,000 to provide funding for implementation of Phase 2 of the Equity-Based Historic Preservation Plan; $865,000 to study and establish a tenant relocation program as the city begins its various housing and transportation expansions; and authorization to study in-city residency of APD officers “with emphasis on the Black and Latinx community.”
The 2022-2023 fiscal year begins on October 1, 2022.
Read more details about the budget here and the housing bond here.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.