Part of the mission of KXAN News is to foster a more informed and engaged community. We deliver in-depth coverage on topics like affordability, safety and mobility that affect the daily lives of Central Texans. And we explore sustainable solutions to economic, systemic and social problems. One way to achieve those goals is providing direct and consistent access to leaders who make decisions that shape local policy — seeking to understand their stances, holding them accountable for promises and asking tough questions when needed. This series of interviews with City of Austin Mayor Kirk Watson is designed with that in mind.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Mayor Kirk Watson said the nearly $81 million dollars earmarked for homeless services in the city budget is already being spent on vital shelter services.

The budget allocated $80.9 million toward homelessness response resources and efforts.

Earlier this week, a $9.1 million contract to run a new, temporary homeless shelter at the Marshalling Yard near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport kicked into a new phase with the first people moving into the shelter.

The shelter promises to offer 300 beds in an emergency capacity for a year as a more permanent shelter solution is created.

Family Endeavors is running the homeless shelter. The goal is to use the shelter for roughly a year while more permanent shelter is created, according to a city memo.

Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon announced his retirement on Monday after 25 years with the APD and two years serving as its leader.

Chacon is expected to retire effective the first week of September of this year. Watson said he believes any instability concerns following Chacon’s departure will be resolved with APD Chief of Staff Robin Henderson stepping in as interim police chief.

“Anytime you lose a leader like that, particularly a leader that’s been a stable leader, you worry about those kinds of things,” Watson said. “I feel very comfortable in Robin Henderson taking the role that she’s taking. She’s been there. She’s been there a long time. She’s been working a long time. She’s been working side-by-side with the chief as the chief of staff. I believe we’ve mitigated any instability.”

Watson’s conversation with KXAN included his thoughts on a new heat and wildfire emergency declaration and the recently passed $5.5 billion city budget.