"For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of[a] love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister."
Leave it to Ellen Troxclair to have a baby yet not miss her next constituent newsletter. We're not gonna say she's Wonder Woman, but we will note that we've never seen her and Wonder Woman in the same location. Important stuff here:
Austin City Budget
Budget adoption is underway, for the next three days the Mayor and Council will vote to adopt fiscal year 2016/2017 budget. The City Manager recently presented his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2016/2017 to Council. This preliminary budget includes an additional $56M more in General Fund spending, 435 (!) new city employee positions, and is expected to cost the "average" homeowner an additional $150 more in taxes, bills and fees next year. Despite a clear mandate to address affordability in Austin, this Council is nearing adoption of a budget that raises taxes, utility rates, and fees for every Austinite, despite record revenues from growth.
This increase would have been even more if it wasn't for the additional increase in the homestead exemption I was able to pass. The proposed Budget adopts the rollback tax rate, which is the highest rate the City can adopt under state law without triggering an election. It also includes increases to utility bills and fees.
As you know, addressing affordability by keeping spending under control was the main reason I ran for City Council, and remains my priority. I have presented my Council Colleagues with a budget plan that would reduce your tax bill. I am not giving up on the desperate necessity for Council to focus on affordability in Austin.
The Zucker report noted that Austin’s building permitting process was one of the worst in the nation. Included in the list of recommendations in the report was one to create an expedited permitting process. This would be an elective program for commercial permits, which would allow applicants to pay an additional fee to use the expedited line.
By creating this new line for permitting (which would pay for itself), the process is sped up for those in the regular line as well as those in the expedited line. However, at last week’s meeting, the majority of the Council elected to add multiple additional requirements to this new expedited permitting process, which include third-party on-site monitoring of construction sites, local hiring requirements, wage requirements, among other requirements. Those additional requirements would be paid for, with yet another fee, by the applicant who seeks a permit. It was passed despite deep concerns raised by a broad range of stakeholder groups that included builders, the real estate community, small and local business associations, and Goodwill, who alone lost $600,000 in revenue due to delays caused by the permitting process.
The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce noted in frustration, “it’s like the Council sees a traffic jam, adds a toll lane and then restricts it to a 5 mph speed limit, yet expects folks to use it.” [Author's note: We oppose any attempt to create a pay to play "fast line" for permits in lieu of fixing the permitting process for everyone.
Read the whole thing here.
Meet Interim City Manager: Elaine Hart
City Council has selected Elaine Hart, the city's current Chief Financial Officer, as interim city manager.
Hart has had a more-than-20-year career with the city, including as the Assistant Finance Director, the City Controller, a Deputy City Auditor, and in management at Austin Energy.
Hart will serve as interim city manager when current City Manager, Marc Ott, leaves Austin to head to Washington DC. Ott has accepted a new position as executive director for ICMA, the International City/County Management Association.