AUSTIN (KXAN) — Next fiscal year, Austinites may be paying more for energy, trash pickup, and other services.
City Manager Spencer Cronk outlined his proposed budget Friday morning, which includes a 2.7% increase in a typical resident’s monthly bill for taxes and services.
Under the proposal, the property tax rate would decrease, meaning if your property value stays the same, that part of your bill would go down. But we know property values are not static in Austin.
The city uses a home valued at $448,000 in it’s proposal, saying the home’s taxes would drop from $1,730 to $1,620. But that’s assuming the value stays the same from year to year.
The city’s budget proposal cover sheet states the city has not yet received its certified appraisal rolls from the Travis, Williamson, or Hays Central Appraisal districts.
Aside from that, the city estimates that the average ratepayer will see an extra $120.81 a year in services and fees.
“It’s not very surprising considering the times, but it is maybe a little disappointing, just knowing that everything’s increasing all over,” said Lisa Lopez, who lives in Austin.
She said her family is already seeing an impact of increasing costs like gas and groceries.
“Extracurricular activities that we do, kind of making sure that’s not going to be anything that’s going to be a big dent in the budget for the month,” Lopez explained.
Lopez takes care of her toddler full time, so she saves on childcare, but budgeting is top-of-mind, especially as they expect baby number two in September.
“One-income household, that is definitely something we have to hone in on, budget on, and really think about a lot when making purchases,” she said.
What’s behind that suggested service and fee increase?
“Generally, it’s the overall cost drivers that are impacting our workforce, including wages, you know, the cost of living for benefits to ensure that we’re able to keep up with even the fuel costs for our own fleet and facilities,” Cronk explained.
Cronk announced a package he hopes will combat the city’s staffing shortage and help make city jobs more competitive: a minimum wage increase from $15 to $18 per hour, a 4% wage increase for civilian employees and a one-time retention stipend of up to $1,500 for all workers who have been with the city for at least a year.
“The simple truth of the matter is that we do not currently have the staff that we need to deliver the services that we must,” Cronk said. “For that reason, and others, the core feature of our budget proposal is a renewed emphasis on ensuring that, as we move into the future, we are in a position to recruit and retain the people we need to do the job that our community expects of us.”
Cronk said the stipend will include temporary staff and sworn public safety officers and will be in employee’s pocketbooks next month.
Lopez said workers deserve the raises, but they’re also facing increased fees.
“It’s kind of unfortunate to have to get that bump or that increase in minimum wage and then it already going to, you know, something else,” she said.