About the Author
Mike Kanin is the Publisher of the Austin Monitor. As such, he doesn't report on much--aside from the workings of the Monitor--any more. In his previous life as a freelance journalist, Kanin has written for the Washington City Paper, the Washington Post's Express, the Boston Herald, Boston's Weekly Dig, the Austin Chronicle, and the Texas Observer.
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Martinez has blunt questions for staff over vacancies, budget requests
City of Austin staff and management will face a barrage of questions today from at least one very frustrated City Council member. Mike Martinez told In Fact Daily and the Austin American-Statesman Tuesday afternoon that he will look for opportunities to freeze some of the more than 900 currently vacant city positions.
With those savings, and that achieved by cutting ancillary costs such as vehicle and fuel use, Martinez believes he can find funding for such items as a bigger city employee raise, a property tax reduction for city residents, or more parks funding, among other ideas.
He continued: “We are raising taxes literally to the rollback rate – we’re .20 below the rollback rate. So this message that we’re staying below the rollback rate? We’re not.”
The city’s fleet department asked for five new full time equivalent positions for FY2014. According to
“If you go down this list, literally, it goes on and on,”
Fleet is one of 17 departments citywide to have asked for fewer new full time positions (5) in the coming budget year than it has current vacancies (10). Other departments in that position include the Communications and Technology Management department (4 and 18), Financial Services (20 and 3), and the Austin Convention Center (6 and 16.75)
Indeed, city staff has asked for more than 300
“The prediction of cases that they believe are coming in is actually down by 3,000,”
Code Compliance officials have a goal of getting caseloads per officer down to 260 cases per year. That may be a hard reconciliation for staff to give, noting that the department requested two fewer investigators.
Meanwhile, Riley is planning to ask city management to examine the idea of using non-APD, but skilled officers to play a role in traffic control for major events. This, it has been argued, could relieve pressure on what has become a large dose of heartburn for the Austin Police Department.
In a parting shot,
“If we’re booming, why, why, are things being run the way that they are – and that’s a fundamental question that Council needs to address,” he said.
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