Austin Economics

May 4, 2010barnali 349 Comments »

Are you a prospective property buyer in Austin in the near future? You might be paying the highest property tax the city could opt for. Well, not as bad as it sounds though. The city is trying hard to strike a financial balance after the recent economic catastrophe in the US. In fact it is faring better than most cities.  The budget staffers have declared a possible deficit which could range from $11 million to $ 28 million, depending on how much property tax the city has to impose and other budget/service cuts. The strategies are all about how to implement “doing more with less” and advance the service delivery simultaneously.

You must have noticed that situations have taken a brighter hue than last spring. Though things were blue, Austin did not face any massive layoffs and major service cuts, unlike most of the ‘big cities’ in the nation.  Last year the city helped overcome $30 million shortfall by doing away with 100 vacant positions; that’s way better than 100 job terminations.  Employees’ salary raise has been pending and the city leaders feel it is time for an upgrade for the loyal workers who waived their pay hikes to preserve the city’s money. The mayor also hopes to enforce ‘lesser then the highest’ property tax. He is also optimistic that the budget might look more encouraging than it does now. The tourism and housing industry and general job market are already doing better.

You and I could wonder as to what happens to the city’s basic services? The budget predicts that most services would remain unimpaired. However some costs look unlikely to be fended-off, like new police officers to meet the surge in population, health insurances, needs for more recreation centers and paramedic units, pension funds etc.  Last year, most public services were maintained inspite of the money shortage, especially library hours, police cadets and youth programs. A very intelligent measure was turning city municipal pools into splash parks, which slashed the maintenance cost efficiently.

The focus of Austin government and people is to keep aside the ‘wants’ for a sunnier day and concentrate more on the ‘needs’.  Stay tuned for a budget and tax-rate proposal in July. Also, you could make your opinion heard at public inputs and hearings.

349 Responses to this entry

Join the discussion