District 4 Budget Priorities

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Jose Chito Vela
Posts: 66
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2022 8:16 am

District 4 Budget Priorities

Post by Jose Chito Vela »


Thank you for sharing your budget priorities and amendments. Below I list my budget priorities and potential amendments for your consideration. I may post additional priorities as a result of community feedback and our conversations this week. I am also a cosponsor on a handful of other items and will be looking into opportunities to more fully fund the Community Investment Budget.

EMS: Austin Travis County EMS (ATCEMS) is understaffed by almost 25% and is suffering a serious loss of qualified medics. ATCEMS employees' starting pay is only $19.56 per hour. Our medics with dependents are considered “very low income” by national standards. They cannot afford to live in the city in which they work, forcing them to commute. The people we depend on in our worst days are living on the edge of poverty to help us. We must act now to help them. In 2021, ATCEMS lost 57 people total, making it the highest loss of any year. As of right now, ATCEMS has already lost 50 people, on pace to double the losses in 2021. We have to act to stop the bleeding. I support a living wage of $22.00 per hour as a base for ATCEMS.

$20.00 per hour minimum city wage: I was happy to see that Austin Community College raised their minimum wage to $20.00 per hour. The City of Austin should match that level. Having a $20.00 per hour base wage is critical for filling vacancies in many departments and helping our hardworking employees keep up with the rising cost of living in our City.

Rental Assistance: The $6.7 million in the proposed budget is a good start, but we must do better. Many Austin residents are extremely rent-burdened, especially in District 4 where 25% of tenants pay more than half their income in rent each month. A robust rental assistance program should also reduce homelessness. I propose an additional $5.3 million in one time funding to emergency rental assistance, for a total of $12 million. In addition, I am thrilled to see $250,000 allocated to the Tenant Relocation Fund.

Lifeguard Staffing: Staff’s proposed budget allocates funding for 4 full-time lifeguards. I propose raising the number of full-time positions to 24. With multiple PARD pools open year round, we need a corps of full-time permanent lifeguard positions. These full-time permanent positions will help us address the lifeguard shortages that led to pool closures during the summer. Austin residents have made it clear that keeping our City pools open is a priority for the community.

Environmental Testing: In addition to carbon, coal plants release many other contaminants into the surrounding environment. As we continue to operate the Fayette Power Project, we should ensure it is not hurting the La Grange community. I want us to conduct scientifically-sound testing to discover the extent of any pollution from the FPP.

I look forward to my first budget and to working with all of you to make our city a better place.