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Austin City Council hears from hundreds of Austinites on proposed budget

More than 400 residents are scheduled to voice their opinions at the meeting.

AUSTIN, Texas — On July 23, Austin City Council will take another look at its proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, and council members will hear from Austinites.

During the public hearing, the council will hear from 404 Austin residents scheduled to talk about their thoughts on the proposed $4.2 billion budget. With the number of people that have signed up, the meeting could last about 13 hours.

The budget has a big focus on "reimagining public safety." As it stands now, the plan cuts $11.3 million of the Austin Police Department's budget to reallocate to other matters such as health, housing and critical social services.

RELATED: Newly proposed City of Austin budget includes $11.3 million cut to APD

So far on Thursday, many speakers have focused specifically on the police topic, saying that they need more attention toward community growth and that the changes for APD's budget aren't enough.

"I urge the council to really look at the budget and move some of those funds away from the police department and towards public goods ... remove some of their funding," said one resident. "Reinvesting City funds in these programs will only help our city."

Other items the budget focuses on include:

  • $60.9 million to help end homelessness by investing in more housing displacement prevention and crisis mitigation
  • $5.1 million toward crisis response and victim services
  • Loans for family businesses
  • Pedestrian safety

City Manager Spencer Cronk said property tax would increase by 3.5% to maintain the budget. He added that's the lowest increase in more than 15 years.

"Importantly, it achieves this without resorting to significant increases in taxes and fees at a time when so many of our residents are experiencing financial strain," Cronk said.

The new budget also takes into account the unprecedented crisis the City faced because of the coronavirus. Cronk said they believe they're ending 2020 with more than $200 million, or 5%, below what they predicted. They have relied on some federal funds to react to the COVID-19 crisis so far.

The Austin Police Association conducted a study, saying it reached out to 80,000 voters within a 24-hour period for feedback on the council's measures. The APA said 77% of the approximately 10,000 voters who responded said they were opposed to the measures.

If you miss the meeting, the council has one more hearing planned on July 30.

RELATED VIDEO: COVID-19's impact on the City of Austin's budget


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