City Council shaves from tax levy to get down to 9.93%

Published 8:35 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Some members still believe percentage is too high


With hopes of getting the proposed 2024 tax levy even lower, the Austin City Council advanced a tax levy increase that is currently sitting at just under 10%.

With Mayor Steve King breaking a 3-3 tie Tuesday night during its work session, the council moved forward a tax levy of 9.93% to a Sept. 18 meeting. Council member Laura Helle was not in attendance.

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In a series of what ​​Director of Administrative Services Tom Dankert called “hard decision,” council members eventually whittled an 11.18% increase down to this newest number, but not without some disappointment from some members who were and still are hoping for a much lower number.

“I find 9.93% offensive to the taxpayer,” Council member Geoff Baker said prior to Tuesday night’s final vote

Going down a laundry list of possible cuts to the proposed budget, council members made early decisions to keep a proposed administrative assistant for the Austin Police Department, three new firefighter positions, proactive housing inspector, forestry/conservation officer and public library aide off the budget that shaved a total of $680,000 off the levy.

The council also opted to remove by a vote of 5-1 a fire inspector position already on the budget that reduced the levy by 1% at $110,000.

However, council members left Tuesday night’s meeting hoping to remove even more from the levy increase with some questions related to the contingency fund still waiting to be answered.

At the same time, some questioned just how much was left to cut, including King and council member Paul Fischer.

“I think we probably can’t shave much more than that,” King said.

While the council continues to look at ways to reduce the levy, Dankert pointed out that time could become a factor. The discussion will be picked up again at the council’s Sept. 18 meeting and a final number has to be to Mower County by Sept. 30.