AUSTIN (KXAN) — Multiple Austin City Council members expressed concern about the state of the Austin 911 center after a KXAN investigation highlighted problems with staffing and high turnover.
The comments came Tuesday — the day following KXAN’s latest report — during discussions about the city’s 2021-22 proposed budget.
“Some of you may have seen the KXAN story over the weekend related to our 911 call center,” said District 10 Councilmember Alison Alter, who kicked off the conversation. “I’m very concerned about retention, recruitment and vacancy rate issues, and I think we need to have a briefing on that to see if we need to make some investments in that department.”
KXAN reported that there have been 100 departures from Austin 911 since the beginning of 2019, most of them call takers and dispatchers. Eighty of them resigned.
“I am also troubled by the information that has been in the KXAN reports this week about the 911 call takers,” said Council member Kathie Tovo of District 9.
Tovo told City Manager Spencer Cronk she expected to have further discussions on the matter next Tuesday at a budget work session.
Speaking to Cronk, Tovo said: “I would have expected that would have risen to the level of your attention and you would have brought it to our attention and that it would be reflected in this year’s budget.”
Austin Mayor Steve Adler also weighed in at Tuesday’s meeting, saying he was not previously familiar with the 911 center issues but that he also wanted to have more discussions about them ahead of council finalizing the budget.
Council will hold two more public hearings regarding the proposed budget before finalizing it in mid-August.