AUSTIN (KXAN) — Here’s what we’re watching at the Austin City Council meeting Thursday.
In reaction to recent gun violence nationwide, the city council may begin a prolonged process of raising the age limit to 21 for buying AR-15s and other semi-automatic weapons.
The resolution would direct the city manager to explore all ways that the city could adopt this law.
“Like everyone in Texas, I am deeply shaken by the shooting in Uvalde. I still remember the horror in El Paso in 2019,” District 4 City Councilmember Jose “Chito” Vela said. “I don’t know yet what Austin can accomplish on gun violence of this kind, but I am committed to finding out.”
A similar item introduced by District 8 City Councilwoman Paige Ellis would urge the Biden administration, congress and the state of Texas to take action to reduce gun violence.
It directs the city manager to identify immediate options to protect residents and reduce gun violence at a local level.
$22 Minimum Wage
Council members will vote on raising the minimum wage for city employees from $15 to $22 an hour.
According to the City of Austin, 18% of its budgeted positions are open.
For full-time employees, a $22 hourly wage would equal an annual salary of just over $45,000.
City Manager Spencer Cronk estimates that this increase could cost the city between $18.2 and $22.8 million.
District 6 City Councilwoman Mackenzie Kelly has pointed out that the city is limited by a 3.5% cap on the property tax revenue increase, imposed by state law.
“There has to be a balance somewhere,” she said. “There will be programs that are cut as a result of this resolution.”
If the proposed pay raise is passed Thursday, the $7 hourly rate increase could go into effect in 2023, pending approval of the city’s fiscal budget.
License Plate Reader Program
Local leaders will decide whether to reinstate the license plate reader program for the Austin Police Department.
These high-tech cameras collect images of the rears of cars. The data collected includes license plates and the make, model and color of cars.
Back in 2020, the city council canceled funding for APD’s license plate reader program, which reduced the department’s budget by $31.5 million.
If this resolution is approved, it would direct the city manager to identify funding for — annual subscription costs of approximately $114,000 —these license plate readers.
Barton Springs Celebrations
District 5 City Councilmember Ann Kitchen is sponsoring two items recognizing a popular place for Austinites to visit during the warm weather months.
Local leaders may proclaim August 8 as ‘Save Our Springs Day,’ directing the city manager to organize a swim party at the Barton Springs Pool. It would waive all entry fees that day while culminating in an official 30th-anniversary recognition party between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
“Especially during this incredibly hot summer, Barton Springs help us survive and thrive,” Kitchen said.
The council could also proclaim Sept. 20 as ‘Barton Springs University Day,’ which also waives entry fees for the day. It would emphasize enabling Austin area high school and college students to visit the outdoor swimming pool.