Council to officially OK 9 pct. levy increase

Published 1:55 pm Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Austin City Council is set to approve a 9 percent maximum levy increase for its 2017 budget Monday after voting in favor of the budget during its last work session to approve a

A 9 percent levy increase could mean an additional $30 to $40 a year for an average home’s taxes.

The council will meet at 5 p.m. at City Hall, 500 Fourth Ave. NE.

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After discussing the budget in August, the council revisited the issue and discussed a request from Vision 2020 to increase its appropriation from $22,000 to $30,000, which the council voted down largely because members felt its request for marking and tourism promotion is already being done by various groups in town.

Employee costs are a driving factor in setting the 2017 budget. Director of Administrative Services Tom Dankert the goal was to keep city services the same in 2017 as in ’16. That made for the 9 percent increase, which will increase the levy by $441,000 to about $5.3 million. Much of 2017’s increase — about 7 percent, according to Dankert — is coming from a roughly 3 percent raise for staff.

Dankert noted the city won’t feel the full 9 percent tax increase. Traditionally, new construction and growth accounts for 2 to 3 percent of the annual tax levy increase, so Dankert estimated the net effect of the 9 percent increase would be closer to a 6 or 7 percent.

In Austin, one percent in a levy increase equals about $49,000, according to Dankert

The city is set to receive about $7.9 million in local government aid in 2017.

The council previously voted to convert the Austin Fire Department’s administrative assistant from 20 to 40 hours a week, which will cost $35,000. That will be paid by reducing the city’s contingency budget from $150,000 to $115,0000 for 2017.

The administrative assistant currently splits time between the fire department and public works, but the change will mean public works will hire a part-time employee.

In other news, the council will:

—discuss bike lanes along 12th Street Southwest from Oakland Avenue to 16th Avenue,

—discuss an ordinance allowed breweries and tap rooms in Austin,

—discuss a paid on-call firefighter pension issue.