AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Transit Partnership, which was created in 2020 as a separate entity to oversee Project Connect, passed its first budget as an independent group Wednesday.

Project Connect is the City of Austin’s more than $10 billion plan to create a light rail system and expand the city’s public transit.

According to budget proposal documents for Fiscal Year 2022-23, ATP’s full budget totals $90.6 million. The partnership said the new budget:

  • Reflects the commitment to not raise taxes beyond the amount voters approved in 2020;
  • Reduces personnel costs by about $2 million from the previous fiscal year;
  • Enhances the board’s audit functions by adding two new positions;
  • Allows board approval of total staffing authorization (new for this year); and
  • Creates and funds a new operating reserve.

The document states ATP’s budget this year will include $35 million in funding for the Project Connect anti-displacement program, bringing the total of ATP’s investment in anti-displacement efforts to $100 million in less than two years.

The City’s contract with voters on Project Connect includes a total of $300 million of the tax revenue increase to be allocated for buying property and “financing tools and other anti-displacement strategies related to the implementation of Project Connect.”

But in April, Community Displacement Prevention Officer Nefertitti Jackmon said that isn’t enough “to meet the rapidly increasing housing costs that Austinites are facing, especially low-income households.”

In April, Project Connect’s cost also about doubled from $5.8 billion, with the jump attributed to design changes, increased land/real estate costs and inflation. Due to these factors, ATP said Wednesday it’s started to develop an updated light rail implementation plan to be completed by spring of next year. This will include the first investment in Austin light rail.