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Council adds to social services, OKs 2009 City Budget
Tuesday, September 9, 2008 by Austin Monitor
It took just one hour to put the finishing touches on next year’s City of Austin budget on Monday, with Council Members making a few minor additions to the $2.8 billion proposal put forth by City Manager Marc Ott.
The Council chose to add more than $234,000 for social service contracts at the request of Council Members Randi Shade and Laura Morrison. “I believe that in tough economic times, which we’re clearly experiencing, the need for the success of our social service organizations in this community is greater than ever,” Shade said. “It’s time for us to focus on basic needs more than anything else, so I was really pleased that we were able to add some resources there.” The exact allocation for that additional funding will be decided when the Council reviews the city’s social-service contracts in January of 2009.
The Council also added $68,000 for a new facility for Family Eldercare at the request of Council Member Leffingwell and transferred $1 million in the Housing Trust Fund at the suggestion of Council Members Morrison and Mike Martinez. “This is a one-time fund…it’s not going to be here next year,” said Martinez. “So, if we want to maintain our commitment from the general fund to the Housing Trust Fund, we need to start working on that today.”
This was the first budget under new City Manager Marc Ott, and both the manager and members of the Council expressed approval of how the budget was handled. “I was incredibly pleased with the process, especially starting the process earlier,” said Council Member Sheryl Cole. She also praised the extensive public input process, which she said played a major role in crafting a budget without significant controversy. “In the end, when we made changes…it was accepted by the community as what was necessary to keep city services level,” she said.
Ott agreed that the timetable and public hearings both played a major role in shaping the budget. “Obviously we had some challenges to provide what I characterize as a responsible, responsive budget recommendation,” he said. “I think all of us worked together effectively to do that. The Mayor and Council got involved with this right from the beginning, and of course our citizens…who we invited on every occasion to weigh in and join us.”
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