Updated: August 18, 2020 06:35 PM
Created: August 18, 2020 05:55 PM
(ABC 6 News) - The Austin City Council is already working on a 2021 budget and it's not easy considering how the pandemic is hurting the city, and stretching resources.
The council wants to raise taxes 4% in 2021, but it’s tricky to ask for more when you’re spending more during the pandemic. In addition, the city also shelled out precious tax dollars this past spring to give city employees a substantial raise.
"The comp and class study, and the increases in wages in salaries as a result of that was a big driver in the financial pressure that we're feeling. The pandemic absolutely didn't help, but taking your number one cost and increasing that double digits over the next couple of years was always going to put pressure on our budget,” said Councilman Jason Baskin.
Now, the council claims it’s working extra hard to keep the increased tax levy out of the double digits. To help do it, the city is looking to cut five and a half unfilled positions.
"By limiting positions that we fill and then really taking a hard look at our costs, we've been able to keep the tax levy down,” Baskin said.
The council will officially set the budget in September. The tax levy will be set then but may have to be adjusted depending on how much cities get from the state.
"I'm anticipating some loss of local government aid, but how much we don't know,” said Councilman Steve King.
Each 1% increase in taxes adds about $100,000 to the city's bank account. A 4% increase would take about $30 extra from the average Austin homeowner. King says the city needs money but is trying to keep taxes as low as possible.
"Everybody is in a tough situation whether it's a business or a property owner, we're just trying to keep that levy as flat as we can in the hopes of all people making it through this crisis right side up,” King said.
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