AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Public Safety Commission passed a motion Monday evening to request that City Council look further into the procedure and funding for first responder special event staffing.

According to the public documents related to the department’s presentation, the amount of largest-scale special events is up 88.89%, and the amount of the smallest-scale special events is up 288.24%.

Below is a yearly breakdown of the number of special events in Austin from 2019-2023.

Chart of yearly special events in Austin.
Austin special event breakdown presented during the September Public Safety Commission meeting.

Austin City Limits Music Festival, one of the city’s largest-scale events, is less than one month away. The event typically requires police overtime and supplemental law enforcement help. APD listed the following factors as challenges the short-staffed department faces when it comes to special events.

  • Officer vacancy rates
  • Double overtime pay for patrol, patrol support shifts and only pay-and-a-half for special event overtime
  • An increased number of events and venues
  • Officers are limited to 36 hours of overtime per week

Events’ impact on Austin

“All different sizes, they all have such a huge impact on our community, in our culture,” said Wesley Lucas, communications director for Visit Austin. “Certainly one of the reasons folks come to visit Austin.”

According to Visit Austin, Formula 1 is the event with the biggest attendance, bringing in about 440,000 people last year. ACL followed with about 400,000 attendees over the course of both weekends.

“And then SXSW is certainly close, and then of course UT football. We see great attendance numbers, folks coming in from out of town to cheer on the Longhorn,” Lucas said. “Events are a huge part of our community.”