Friday, April 6, 2018

#atxcouncil requires 5% TAX HIKE just to MAINTAIN CURRENT SERVICES (unintentionally makes case for statewide #TXLEGE reform)

"There is desirable treasure,
And oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man squanders it."
Proverbs 21:20

This isn't surprising, but the actual numbers are still pretty astonishing; via the Austin Monitor:
City Council will have to raise property taxes by 5 percent in the Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget just to continue funding existing programs, according to a financial forecast prepared by the city budget office.

In a presentation to Council members on Wednesday, Deputy Chief Financial Officer Ed Van Eenoo projected that Council will have a $750,000 surplus when it begins crafting the budget later this summer. However, that money won’t go very far due to a number of cost drivers, including health insurance.

The surplus comes despite the fact that the city is receiving slightly less revenue from sales taxes, franchise fees and traffic fines than city staff budgeted for.

More than anything, the surplus is thanks to Council’s failure to approve a contract with the Austin Police Association. That, combined with a recently approved contract with Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services workers that included only modest pay increases, has left Council with $4.4 million more than staff had projected, explained Van Eenoo.

Even the labor savings, however, are hardly guaranteed, since Council has signaled that it wants to eventually approve a new contract with the police union that will, in all likelihood, include some level of pay increase for police officers.

The savings are “really a guess at this point because we’re still negotiating with our largest bargaining unit,” said Van Eenoo.

The city is also projecting that property values will continue to increase: by 10 percent in 2019, 8 percent in 2020 and an average of 6 percent per year from 2021 to 2023. It projects that there will be $3 billion of new construction next year and an average of $2.4 billion per year from 2020 to 2023.
That being said, during discussion of potential action at the state level, the city's Chief Financial Officer said something interesting):
“I’m not trying to be dire,” said Van Eenoo, “but a 4 percent cap would be a new reality.”
That's the point.

Bottom Line:  This can't continue indefinitely....

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