Hotel tax increase, homelessness funding highlight packed council agenda Thursday

Austin

Tax increase would go into effect immediately

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In a packed agenda Thursday, Austin City Council will vote on whether to increase bed taxes earlier than expected.

Council members will decide whether to increase the Hotel Occupancy Tax from 7% to 9% to fund Convention Center Expansion.

In a memo released Tuesday, Assistant City Manager Rodney Gonzalez wrote that increasing the HOT tax before the next budget is approved would reduce overall interest costs on the project. This comes not long after a petition opposing Convention Center expansion was certified by the City Clerk.

Council will vote whether to approve a Special Election based on that petition. In November, Austinites would decide on whether voter approval should be required for any expansions or remodeling of the Austin Convention Center, costing more than $20 million.

Council will also be taking up an ordinance requiring another referendum on whether to allow a professional sports team to use public land tax-free.

Fair Play Austin got 29,000 signatures on a petition calling for a vote on the McKalla Stadium plan for Austin’s Major League Soccer team. Austin FC would play at the stadium in North Austin beginning in 2021.

City leaders will also weigh Thursday several items related to homelessness.

Two proposed agreements with Integral Care would provide mental health treatment services within the Downtown Austin Community Court, and funding for the Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST), respectively.

Two other items that would fund services at the two Salvation Army shelters, Downtown and the Rathgeber Center, passed Thursday.

Another item would create a local government corporation to give the city more financial flexibility in funding homelessness efforts.

Council will also vote whether to direct city management to find at least 10 locations for drinking fountains in the Downtown area.

Finally, citing recent violence in the Red River Street area, City Council will take up an item expediting improvements there. This would include additional lighting, trash cans, and pedestrian mobility improvements.

Work would begin no later than November 1.

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