AUSTIN -- The Austin City Council approved the 2013-2014 fiscal budget Tuesday. The $3.3 billion budget will go into effect on October 1.
Among the changes, a property tax rate of 50.27 cents per $100 property value. That’s a 0.02 cent rate lower than last year’s 50.29 rate. It’s the first property tax reduction since fiscal year 2009 when the rate was reduced from 40.34 cents to 40.12.
City leaders say for the average median-priced home is estimated to pay $931 per year, or $77.56 per month. That rate is an approximate $2.83 increase per month for the owner of a $185,000.00 home.
Mayor Lee Leffingwell said he's proud with the new budget.
“I’ve never seen this level of scrutiny put to the budget. I’m proud of the staff for the work they’ve done and of council members for coming together and addressing this budget in a way that enables us to reduce the tax rate," Leffingwell said. “We listened to each other, staff and stakeholders and clearly demonstrated a commitment to affordability and fiscal responsibility,” Mayor Leffingwell added.
The approved budget includes funding for:
• An additional 47 police officers, two additional fire lieutenants to support the Austin Fire Department’s Wildfire Mitigation Division, and one additional Community Health Paramedic in the Emergency Medical Services department.
• 26 full-time inspectors, plan reviewers, and other professional and development-related support staff across three departments to assist in planning, permitting and inspection efforts.
• 61 new full-time positions for the Parks and Recreation Department: 20 to assist in operating and maintaining the five City-owned cemetery sites, five grounds and maintenance positions for new area parks, and one program coordinator position at a recreation center facility. Additionally, the Council added 35 positions for general park enhancements, forestry, pool maintenance, and trail improvements.
• A 1.5 percent salary increase for all civilian City employees and sworn APD staff.
• Civilian employees will also receive a $0.36 per hour base wage increase starting in April of 2014.
In 2012, Austin Energy initiated its first base rate increase and rate restructuring in more than 18 years. There are no base rate increases within this year's approved budget. However, other necessary funding requirements will result in an approximate $1.11 increase per month for the typical Austin Energy user.
The Austin Water Utility plans to implement a system-wide rate increase effective November 1. Residential customers would see an average monthly increase of $5.06.
This budget also includes an overall decrease in the Clean Community Fee of $0.20 per month for residential customers and $0.40 per month for commercial customers.