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Mayor Adler talks COVID-19, Austin police budget cuts on KVUE Daybreak

When it comes to COVID-19, the mayor said residents need to stay vigilant. He also responded to Gov. Abbott's proposal to freeze property tax revenues.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin Mayor Steve Adler joined KVUE Monday to talk about the latest COVID-19 trends and the recent budget cuts to the Austin Police Department.

Adler told KVUE's Yvonne Nava that the community has done a great job in stopping cases from spiking again, but residents need to stay vigilant.

"We've now come back down and then the numbers are looking good but we but we may be plateauing, which is why we need people to maintain their vigilance," he said. "What we see in cities around the country is when they get to where we are right now, people start relaxing and then they go through the same roller coaster you get. So we need their numbers are looking better, but we need the community to double down on doing what has worked, which is wearing the masks, social distancing."

According to a study done by the University of Texas, up to 183 UT students could arrive COVID-19 positive for the first week of school. Adler explained how students going back to UT could affect the COVID-19 numbers. 

RELATED: UT estimates up to 183 students could arrive coronavirus-positive for first week of school

"Well, I'm a little concerned about that just because we have so many people that are returning to our community that hasn't been part of what we went through this summer. So they haven't gone through the same learning experience that the rest of us had," he said. "And we also know that student populations sometimes don't see the same need for the discipline that others see. But the University of Texas is going to be trying their best to maintain that discipline. They're talking to the students there. They're laying down rules that the number of students coming back to the dormitory is not as great. They're going to be testing thousands of students every week. That said, it's a concern and something we're going to going to need to watch."

WATCH: Austin mayor talks COVID-19, police budget cuts on KVUE

When it comes to the budget cuts to the APD, Mayor Alder talked about Gov. Greg Abbott's proposal to freeze property tax revenues for any city that decreases funding to its police department, adding that the governor misrepresented what the City of Austin did.


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"The first thing the governor did was misrepresent what we did. He said that we cut $150 million out of police and we did no such thing. The cut we made was much more limited, much more targeted, only went after unfilled positions. We didn't do anything to stop the current officers on the street or the jobs they're doing," Adler said. "And with this $20 million cut that we did, we were able to fund taking people off the street because that's an important thing to do, expanding mass, providing additional shelters for women in abusive situations. I think that's going to serve to reduce what police need to do. The rest of the money was not taking a penny out of any program that the police have. So, yes, I think that the governor really wasn't doing much more other than stating a political message. As we get into November, I'm certain we're going to have more and more misrepresentations of the truth as campaign matters. I don't know what will happen after that. But we made a very measured and smaller cut designed to make us safer as a community."

From the mask mandate to our city opening up earlier than Adler preferred and now the city budget, it feels like there's just a constant push and pulls between the City and the State. The mayor responded by saying the things the City of Austin has done are supported by the "overwhelming number of people."

"When there's no statewide elected Democrat, I think that sometimes our state Republican leaders need a foil or an enemy that they can be running against. It's been Austin, but it's also been cities all across the state, and that's unfortunate because the offices and the work we're doing here really are a political we're trying just to keep the community safe, keep the community growing," Adler said.

The mayor ended the interview by saying that public safety is the No. 1 purpose of local government, but it's done in different ways.

"While policing is a big part of public safety and we need to support our police and the functions that they do, it's not the only answer," Adler explained. "And if we want to maintain Austin as one of the five safest big cities in the entire country, which we have consistently been in that group, we have to continue to look at public safety more broadly than just police funding."


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