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Taxpayers Get Payback From Austin Council

Updated: Wednesday, October 2 2013, 06:38 PM CDT

It's payback time for taxpayers. Austin City Council has more than $135,000 left over from the 2012-2013 budget.

Every year for an office budget, each council member gets $321,062. The mayor receives $503,549. It pays for salaries and other office expenses.

Here is the breakdown of how much money has gone unused.

Chris Riley: $6,342.47
Mike Martinez: $5,674.68
Kathie Tovo: $11,585.24
Laura Morrison: $3,084.06
Bill Spelman: $53,014.19
Sheryl Cole: $11,506.86
Mayor Lee Leffingwell: $44,435.92

However, taxpayers do not have a say on where the money goes, instead it's up to council.

"I think we have been relatively frugal, in coming down to $3,000 left," said Morrison.

Tovo said, "I think we all do our best and spend as little as possible."

Spelman explains he does not receive a salary. He spent his funds buying downloadable books, magazines, and journals for the Austin library system.

"What I have done the last two years is put it where I can spend it productively," said Spelman.

Tovo allocated hers to adult and senior enrichment facilities within the Parks and Recreation Department. That paid for exercise equipment, art and crafts supplies and sewing machines.

"They had a pretty long list of needs from materials to resources," said Tovo.

The rest of council rolled their money over into the reserve fund for next year.

"If mid-year it looks like we have plenty, plenty, plenty in reserve. We can all come together to decide where it can be used," said Morrison.

Some question if budgets should be cut if the money goes unused. Tovo explains it's hard to predict year to year, "it is not always possible to predict how much you might spend for supplies, for computers, for staffing requirements."

By Christie Post

Taxpayers Get Payback From Austin Council



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