Budget priorities

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Kathie Tovo
Posts: 111
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2014 11:18 am

Budget priorities

Post by Kathie Tovo »


As we enter a challenging budget season this year due to the State-imposed revenue caps and other legislation, I want to take the opportunity sooner rather than later to highlight a few priorities and investments I plan to focus on and advocate for in the upcoming budget. This list may grow, but below are the investments that I know at this point I intend to prioritize:

- additional EMS resources for the Downtown Area Command to address the high call volume near 6th Street, as well as other community-based health investments;

-the in-sourcing of certain contracted custodial and janitorial employees per the Council-approved recommendations from the Contract Labor Working Group that I convened;

- a pilot grant program to address food insecurity experienced by area college students in our community, per the recommendation from the College Student Commission;

-more funding for local youth programming through our Parks and Recreation Department; and

-(potentially) additional resources for our local food system and food access initiatives, should more funds not be realized within our ARPA framework for these purposes.

Should these priorities not be reflected in the City Manager’s proposed budget, I intend to identify additional efficiencies and cost savings to help fund these investments and to introduce amendments to effect these measures.

I’m committed to ensuring that the City is poised for long-term financial health so as to avoid interruptions to critical City services and programs, especially programs that serve our community’s most vulnerable. I look forward to working with all of you during the budget process to ensure we make strategic investments to help foster an equitable, prosperous, and resilient Austin.

Kathie Tovo
Council District 9
Vanessa Fuentes
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2021 9:02 am

Re: Budget priorities

Post by Vanessa Fuentes »

Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, and colleagues,

Thank you Council Member Tovo for your message board post highlighting your budget priorities as we approach this critical time of year. I am particularly excited to support your effort to secure vital EMS resources for those on the front lines during these pressing times. I look forward to working with all of my colleagues to craft a budget that meets the needs of our communities.

Austinites have weathered numerous challenges over the last fiscal year. Whether it be the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and Winter Storm Uri or grappling with these emergencies in the midst of rapid displacement in our city. In spite of these challenges, my neighbors in District 2 continue to show the strength, resilience, and solidarity that define my community.

My budget priorities this year will build on these defining characteristics—the development of which will allow all Austinites to recover from the hardships we have faced. It is not sufficient to return to the pre-pandemic status quo. We must improve upon lessons learned during this past year and strive to construct a more equitable future in which all have access to the resources required to thrive.

This past weekend my office held its first in-person town hall meeting in which my community conveyed their needs as we enter the new fiscal year. Informed by the input of my neighbors, and inspired to build on the work we as a Council have accomplished over the last six months, I will champion the following non-exhaustive list of priorities:

1. Community Health Workers: Invest in the development and implementation of an Austin Public Health community health worker framework to
bridge cultural gaps between health care providers and the community;

2. Expand Broadband Access: Increase access to broadband infrastructure and online connectivity for seniors, small businesses, those seeking
health services, and families in historically underserved areas; and

3. Prevent Displacement: Expand funding to combat displacement through community outreach programs that provide renters and homeowners
access to services within the City that protect from displacement.

I look forward to actively engaging with each of you on these priorities. In lockstep with our communities, I know that we will meet this moment and approve a budget that is both fiscally responsible and anchored in equity.

Yours in community,
Council Member, District 2
Paige Ellis
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:37 pm

Re: Budget priorities

Post by Paige Ellis »

Colleagues -

Thank you to CMs Tovo and Fuentes for posting your budget priorities.

My priorities are as follows:

1. Parks & Recreation Department operations, maintenance, & staffing: (http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 154557.pdf)

The most important item for me is the increase in Park Rangers. I led on this in the last budget cycle as well, and as we increase park land acquisitions, we will need to increase the number of trained Park Rangers to help inform park users how to be good stewards of our shared open spaces.

We are also all familiar with the need to increase PARD’s budgetary line items for Grounds Maintenance and for Facilities Maintenance, and I will be advocating for this as well.

There are a number of one-time costs I hope can be included as our parks and the recreation centers became more heavily used during the pandemic and the winter storm. Some of these are likely already on the City Manager and Assistant City Manager’s radar as they include building repairs and capital improvement projects, so I will be looking for those as well.

2. EMS (http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 154622.pdf)

3. CAPCOG’s Clean Air Coalition: My understanding is that our local commitment in the amount of $110,598 will be included based on staff input.

4. And as always, I support any increase possible to the Workforce First program. The Other Ones Foundation has its roots in District 8 and is doing great work at Camp Esperanza now. This proven workforce model deserves to be enhanced and scaled up.

I look forward to the City Manager’s presentation a week from today, to seeing you all in person, and beginning this important discussion.

Paige Ellis
City Council District 8
Paige Ellis
Council Member, District 8
Mackenzie Kelly
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2021 2:56 pm

Re: Budget priorities

Post by Mackenzie Kelly »


I look forward to examining the budget to ensure we are spending our constituent's tax dollars for the best and highest use. In particular, I intend to advocate for:

-Building on the momentum of the current APD cadet class by advocating for two (or more) cadet classes in the coming fiscal year,

-Ensuring that APD has necessary equipment and the resources to adequately maintain it, including items related to fleet,

-Monthly stipends for our first responder telecommunicators to ensure we can attract and retain the highest quality staffing for these crucial positions,

-Funding for Animal Services to continue their Homeless Outreach Service role. In FY 2020-2021 this role was grant funded, and the grant funding runs out this year. This crucial role, in particular, has helped keep over 100 of our unhoused neighbors animals from being surrendered to the shelter over the last year.

I look forward to seeing you all at the City Manager's budget presentation tomorrow.

Warm Regards,

Council Member, District 6
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