AUSTIN (KXAN) — This week, a news release from the political action committee Save Austin Now called into question $115 million in transfers made from Austin Energy to the city’s general fund — a practice that is city-mandated and a requirement for Austin Energy as a public, nonprofit utility service, officials said.

“For almost a year, we have been raising questions about the $115 million that city council transfers from Austin Energy to general revenue to fund their pet projects, instead of allowing Austin Energy to invest in infrastructure upgrades, increase response efforts to restore power and reduce electric rates,” SAN’s release read in part.

That’s a practice that dates back decades, an Austin Energy spokesperson told KXAN Thursday. As a city-owned, nonprofit utility, Austin Energy isn’t allowed to maintain any excess revenues it acquires during a fiscal year, they added.

Instead, those excess revenues go back into the city’s general fund to help finance services like fire, EMS, parks services and the Austin Public Library, among others, the spokesperson said. With its nonprofit status, Austin Energy is legally required to pay any excess revenues back to the city and, by extension, to taxpayer services, they added.

Under the city’s financial policies: “Net Revenue generated by Austin Energy shall be used for General Fund transfers, capital investment, repair and replacement, debt management, competitive strategies, and other Austin Energy requirements such as working capital.

The exact excess revenue transfer amount varies each fiscal year, depending on how much net gain revenue Austin Energy receives.

Per the city’s fiscal year 2022-23 budget, the city approved $115 million in transfers from Austin Energy for this current fiscal year. During FY20, FY21 and FY22, those transfer amounts were $111 million, $114 million and $114 million, respectively.

“The primary financial benefit to the City of Austin is Austin Energy’s transfer to the General Fund, which is allocated by elected City Council members to municipal purposes such as fire and parks,” Austin Energy officials wrote online. “The amount is set by policy and has ranged from $105 million to $114 million in recent years.”

Without the transfers, the spokesperson said there would be a multi-million-dollar hole in the city’s budget. That could result in property tax increases or service reductions without funding.