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Council pulls back on Austin Energy cuts

Thursday, September 10, 2015 by Tyler Whitson

During a Fiscal Year 2015-16 budget adoption meeting on Wednesday, City Council considered two major cuts to Austin Energy’s budget but ultimately did not adopt them. One, based on a budget concept menu item put forward by Council Member Ellen Troxclair, involved cutting $2.65 million from Austin Energy’s general marketing budget – including dropping 12 full-time staff positions. Council Member Don Zimmerman made the motion, which died for lack of a second. Troxclair followed up by stating that she did not intend, when she submitted the item, to cut staff positions but to limit spending on Austin Energy branding efforts. Another proposal would have removed $3.8 million from the Austin Energy Capital Budget earmarked for the proposed combined-cycle natural gas plant that is included in the Austin Energy Resource, Generation and Climate Protection Plan to 2025. The economic viability of the gas plant and renewable alternatives are currently the subject of an independent review that, according to Austin Energy, Navigant Consulting plans to release in October. Council Member Leslie Pool motioned to approve the item because she said she did not feel comfortable allocating the funds for the project before seeing the results of the study. She ultimately withdrew the motion, however, after Austin Energy Chief Financial Officer Mark Dombroski explained that Council would ultimately have to approve any contract that would move forward on constructing the plant.

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