AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council voted in favor of adopting its $5.5 billion budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year, marking the largest-ever budget in city history.

Alongside its budget, council approved the FY24 ad valorem property tax rate of 44.58 cents per $100 valuation, marking a 3.4% increase.

The FY24 budget marks a half-billion-dollar increase over the FY23 budget and a $1 billion increase above the FY22 budget.

Both the FY24 budget and tax rate were adopted on a 10-1 vote, with Council Member Mackenzie Kelly voting against both items.

“My vote against the budget stems from my concerns regarding certain budget items that deviate from our core priorities and don’t align with a back-to-basics approach,” Kelly said, in part, in a statement shared with KXAN Wednesday. “While I recognize the importance of various services, there are areas where government funding should not be directed.”

What’s included in the City of Austin’s FY24 budget?

Some features of the upcoming fiscal year’s budget include funding for affordable housing, homelessness response, weather emergency resources and a domestic violence shelter.

  • $87.2 million of spending earmarked for the City of Austin’s Housing Department’s housing development assistance programs, which are “aimed at creating or preserving deeply affordable housing”
  • $80.9 million in homelessness response resources, efforts
  • $6.1 million in one-time financing to help cover the costs of equipping City-owned and managed facilities with generators to maintain power, in the event of a severe weather event
  • $4 million to “improve internal processes related to permitting and plan reviews, as well as expedite proposed changes in the land development code.” This funding includes the creation of new positions
  • $2.7 million to improve security, preservation of parks, library branches, public health facilities and the Austin Animal Center
  • $10.5 million in planned capital spending related to aquatic projects, such as the new Colony Park pool and Givens Pool renovations
  • $1 million in Austin Energy’s budget to “conduct a study regarding conversation of the overhead distribution system to underground”
  • $2.6 million for police recruitment incentives
  • $5.5 million in capital spending for a Domestic Violence Shelter
  • $15.9 million in capital spending for renovations to the Faulk Library, along with branch library facilities

What to know about the FY24 property tax rate

On the tax rate front, city officials said the overall tax rate would decrease by 1.69 cents. With increased property values, the typical Austin homeowner would see an approximate 6.1% increase in their tax bill.

“Altogether, the combined projected impact of tax, rate and fee changes represent an increase, for the typical ratepayer, of 3.6% - equivalent to an additional $172 per year or $14.31 per month,” officials said in a release Wednesday.

Included in the property tax discussion are several property tax exemptions for qualifying parties.

  • Disabled veterans: Exemptions range from $5,000 to $12,000, depending on the percentage of disability the veteran has sustained. Disabled veterans with 100% disability “are entitled to a tax exemption of the total appraised value of the residence homestead,” per council documents.
  • Residence homestead: Those with a residence homestead are entitled to a 20% tax exemption of the assessed valuation of their home
  • Straight disability local option: Disabled persons who aren’t able to hold a job and are on social security or forced retirement “can apply for and receive an $124,000 tax exemption”
  • Elderly homestead: Resident homeowners ages 65 years and older can apply for and receive a $124,000 tax exemption on their home

Amendments approved Wednesday

On Wednesday, council approved three new amendments to the FY24 budget that came with financial changes.

The first was an amendment proposed by Council Member José Velásquez to approve a nearly $614,000 increase in funds for parent support specialists, in coordination with Austin ISD. Parent support specialists primarily work with Title I schools’ students and their families to assist with housing support, homelessness prevention, food access and attendance.

Velásquez said these specialists can help aid and change both a child and their family’s trajectory and future.

Council Member Zohaib “Zo” Qadri proposed a $100,000 one-time fund for fair housing education and support resources. The goal of the funds was to assist residents looking to “counter discrimination in the housing and employment markets, [with] a particular focus on support for people with disabilities,” per council documents.

That amendment passed and was incorporated into the FY24 budget.

A final amendment proposed and approved by council Wednesday was made by Council Member José “Chito” Vela, related to human resources employees in the Austin Police Department. His motion called for HR employees handling APD-related materials to remain in the City of Austin’s corporate HR office.

During a discussion prior to council’s vote, city staff said it isn’t uncommon for city departments with more than 50 staff members to operate their own internal department HR team. That motion to keep APD-related HR employees in the corporate HR department passed.

Amendments previously added by council to Interim City Manager Jesús Garza’s proposed budget include:

  • $2 million in one-time funds for a mental health jail diversion pilot program
  • $1.8 million purchase of a new aerial fire truck for the Austin Fire Department
  • $1.35 million to increase human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment services
  • $1.3 million for a family stabilization grant program to assist low-income families
  • $2 million for shade structures added citywide
  • $1.1 million to support “digital delivery of services for persons experiencing homelessness”
  • Almost $400,000 to expand programming at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center
  • $770,000 to finance seven full-time positions to support services for victims and survivors of crime
  • More than $500,000 to improve security and maintenance operations at city parks, pools, recreation centers and cultural centers