CM Pool Budget Priorities

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Leslie Pool
Posts: 160
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:22 pm

CM Pool Budget Priorities

Post by Leslie Pool » Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:45 pm


This will be the last fiscal year before the effect of the 3.5% revenue cap imposed upon our city by the state legislature is fully realized. That means striking an appropriate balance this budget season between setting aside revenue for the stormy days ahead and shoring up important investments in our workforce, our youth, our recreational and natural resources, and programs for people experiencing homelessness.

With that balance in mind, I will support going to the full tax rate increase of 8% this year to prepare ourselves for future lean years. On the savings side of the scales, putting aside a portion of revenue into our reserves will help us prepare for future budget shortfalls.

On the investments side of the scales, I’d like for us to continue to fund the priorities I mentioned above that support our community with additional resources. My staff and I vetted these items with our city departments and with community groups to confirm the need and support for each proposal.

Reserves Funding:
• Reserves TBD: I want to indicate my support for adding to our reserves, and will have a better idea about what that dollar amount or percentage is when I have seen the City Manager’s budget and other priorities you all may have.

Workforce and Affordable Child Care Investment:
• $100,000 increase to Capital IDEA’s contract for a total of $2.5 million.
• $503,250 investment of ongoing and one-time funds to provide affordable child care for 132 more children at city recreation centers and to increase youth employment.

Pools & Natural Resources Investment:
• $316,000 ongoing funds to keep up with maintenance requirements and implement water conservation goals at Austin’s 44 pools and splash pads.
• $200,000 one-time investment in Austin’s Natural Preserves System for a much-needed master plan and infrastructure improvements to improve access and education.

Youth Experiencing Homelessness:
• $160,000 ongoing funds for youth experiencing homelessness. Last year, I advocated for a one-time gap funding of $160,000 to leverage federal dollars for Lifeworks’ youth homelessness rapid rehousing and services programs. The program is demonstrably effective; let’s invest these dollars on an ongoing basis.

Support & Promotion of Small Business Cooperatives:
I’d like to give direction from the dais to initiate a pilot program funded by the Economic Development Department’s FY20 operating budget to provide technical support and promotion for existing and new small business cooperatives. This is an emerging business model nationwide and is aligned with council direction from Resolution 20170323-053 calling for support for, and promotion of, worker cooperatives.

Improvements for People with Disabilities:
There are several improvements recommended by the Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities, some of which require more vigilance on the part of our city departments, and some of which will require more funding in this or next year’s budget.

The committee prioritizes a list of recommendations including a quality of life study for Austinites with disabilities along with more youth and adult programming at our city parks. I understand funding for at least these two requests may be included in the City Manager’s base budget. Other priorities on the list that require our attention include expanded employment opportunities, ensuring better access in City Hall, improved bathroom access at Zilker Park, and expanded disability-related training for public safety officials. I am looking at this list carefully and working with our city departments to see how and when we might deliver on these requests to improve quality of life for Austinites with disabilities.

Once the City Manager’s budget is public, I will review to see how his funding priorities align with these presented here. I may bring additional items as our discussions proceed, based on requests from the public hearing next month, as well as funding priorities that you may bring. This list is offered as a beginning point for discussions and decisions and to indicate where my priorities for FY20 programs and operations lie at this time.

I will be out of town on city-related business when the budget is presented on August 5, but I will continue to share my thoughts and priorities here on the message board for my colleagues and the public.

Best regards,

Leslie Pool
Council Member, District 7