City: 2014 property taxes to slightly decreasePublished 11:08am Tuesday, August 6, 2013
The Austin City Council will decrease the city’s property tax levy next year — just not by choice.
City council members discussed preliminary changes to the 2014 city budget and tax levy during a work session Monday night, including a 1.25 percent tax levy — about $52,000 — decrease from mandated levy caps put in place this year by state legislators.
That would mean less than a few dollars in potential savings for the average taxpayer, according to city officials.
While the city is set to receive an extra $700,000 from Local Government Aid next year, that will likely be tied up in employee wage increases, a new police radio tower, capital projects and non-state funded street projects, according to Finance Director Tom Dankert.
The council won’t formalize the budget until next month, but council members are already making a few changes.
The council is seeking to add another police officer to help deal with Austin’s high arrest rate, which will cost about $74,000.
Council members will also likely give $40,000 to the Development Corporation of Austin next year, as Austin’s Housing Redevelopment Authority cut the DCA’s budget from $60,000 to $20,000 in order to have the city and the Austin Port Authority each make up the difference.
Yet the port authority is largely funded through city levy dollars, which means the council will likely have to divert the full amount.
“It’s the same pair of pants, just a different pocket,” Council member Jeff Austin said.
To make up the difference, the council will likely drop plans to install a sign near the Industrial Park area, put off a job pay equity review, cut funding for a potential water fountain and save $60,000 when buying the police radio tower, originally budgeted at $300,000.
The city plans to include $55,000 for Vision 2020-related expenses, though Council member Judy Enright questioned whether it was wise to budget that much money over the next few years when many Vision 2020 projects have yet to take off.
Mayor Tom Stiehm said the city should be expected to help with Vision 2020 alongside other community organizations.
“We were there since the inception of Vision 2020, it’s too late to get out now,” he told council members.
The council will likely keep the same funding levels to local nonprofits and other agencies as 2013, though the council did discuss whether to cut $7,000 in funding from local public television station KSMQ after Austin brought up the suggestion.