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Politics

 
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Austin City Council Begins Budget Process

Updated: Friday, August 1 2014, 06:16 PM CDT

When starting a $3.5 billion proposed budget you can expect changes through the process.

Now Austin City Council members need to figure out what direction is best for the city and all of its different departments.

Part of nailing down a budget is finding out how to best meet those needs.

"That's just a balancing act that we're going to have to make as council members," said Council Member Sheryl Cole. "Keeping up with the needs of a growing city, yet keeping the property taxes and other fees affordable for everyone to live here."

Under the proposed budget the Austin Police Department could add 59 new police officers.

"We believe with those 59 we'll be able to increase our uncommitted time and improve our response time, but most importantly start really having an impact on some of the issues having an impact on property crimes," said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo.

With 38 more civilian positions staffing the 911 call center and other areas the chief believes the extra personnel can have an immediate impact.

But total staff is still short of the department's magic number of 126.

"In terms of staffing well below the national average, but despite that fact we have a great relationship with this community and we're able to keep Austin relatively safe," said Acevedo.

When departmental budgets take hold the full picture could become clear.

"We have to evaluate all those cost drivers that we have built into the budget, and also the particular needs of the departments that don't have cost drivers -- like libraries and parks," said Cole.

Many have wish lists and tough decisions will be made on where the money goes, to help keep the city affordable and meet its growing needs.

"We always want to listen to the needs of the community and try to support that," said Cole.

By Adam Racusin

Austin City Council Begins Budget Process


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