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Council plods through budget ideas

Thursday, August 31, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Starting with a 32-page wish list, City Council has been trying to pare down its budget requests, spending most of Wednesday working on it. Council Member Pio Renteria told the Austin Monitor during a break that he and his colleagues were going through the list and trying to eliminate duplicate requests. Even after doing that though, Renteria estimated that Council would still have $70 million in wants, but only $4 million with which to work. Council Member Alison Alter didn’t see things that way. She said, “We have an entire budget that we can play with.” She said Interim City Manager Elaine Hart had identified $5 million in savings, including $1 million in one-time funds and $4 million in recurring funds for Council to allocate. However, Alter has proposed changing the way firefighters are scheduled, which would free up a certain amount of money. She also said she wants to make civilian positions within the Fire Department that deal with wildfire permanent, which would allow those employees to receive benefits. Alter said she wants to look at cutting the budget for consultants as well as some commodities. After Monday’s Labor Day holiday, Council will come back on Tuesday to discuss the budget again and also agreed to have an additional budget meeting on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 7. Council members are scheduled to adopt the budget on Sept. 11, 12 and 13, so they have a lot of work to do before that.

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