City Council: 11.18% tax levy increase needs to come down

Published 9:11 pm Monday, August 21, 2023

The levy needs to be decreased. 

That was the overall feeling of the City Council regarding 2024 budget discussions Monday night during the council’s work session.

The council is in the early stages of what they hope will be a decrease of an early 11.18% tax levy, something council members expressed they would like to see go into single digits. How far down that goes differs.

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At its current level, the 11.18% tax levy would come to around a $9.2 million increase.

Austin Mayor Steve King said he thought Austin citizen’s would be good with 8 or 8.5%, however, at-large member Jeff Austin expressed a desire to see the levy go as low as the 4 to 6% range.

“Obviously, we’ve got some work to do on this,” Austin said.

Of the areas that ate up a lot of discussion early in the work session was a requested fire inspector position by the Austin Fire Department. The proposed request would be 100% dedicated to inspections, which Fire Chief Jim McCoy said are behind.

Currently, two full time firefighters are on station daily and generally take up the inspection duties, however, on fire calls they are often forced to halt the inspection and reschedule, which has contributed to the current backlog of inspections.

However, King advocated holding off on any decision on staffing decisions in favor of waiting to hear what an increase in insurance costs might be later this month.

However, Austin Director of Administrative Services, Tom Dankert said that there is also a time element and that there will need to be serious discussions during the work session portion on Sept. 5.

“We need some heart-to-heart talks at that work session,” he said.

The council opted to schedule a closed-door discussion prior to the City Council meeting on Sept. 5 for further, staff-related talks regarding the levy.