Austin City Council continues work on budget and tax levy for 2024 at Monday work session

The Austin City Council continued work on the city’s budget for 2024 with Administrative Services Director Tom Dankert during a work session following their regularly scheduled meeting at the City Council Chambers Monday evening.

Dankert stated to the council that he and City Administrator Craig Clark had met with different city department heads and their requests to come up with the proposed 2024 budget, which he stated right now features a $9.2 million, or 11.18% tax levy increase over 2023 in order to balance proposed expenditures with proposed revenues.  There was considerable discussion during the budget session concerning staffing costs, which Dankert stated are by far the largest operating expense for any municipality, including the city of Austin.  Discussion by the council concerning those costs centered mostly on the addition of a fire inspector to be 100% dedicated to inspections on a daily basis, allowing the department to complete more inspections each year.  The position is in the current budget at an estimated cost of $110,000, or a 1.32% tax increase, and also discussed extensively was a proposal currently not in the budget from the Fire Department to add three additional firefighters, one for each shift for an estimated cost of $321,000, or a 3.88% tax increase.  

Discussion during the budget session also centered around the proposed 11.18% levy increase for 2024, as it was the consensus of the council to lower that figure into the single digits.  It was determined that individual councilmembers will submit what they would like to see in the city’s budget to Dankert’s office in advance of the next council meeting on Tuesday, September 5th, as cities need to approve and submit a proposed budget and tax levy to the state by September 30th.  After that time, the proposed levy can be lowered, but not raised before the city’s final budget and tax levy for 2024 are approved by the council at their final meeting for 2023 in mid-December.