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Groups ask for budget backtrack

Thursday, September 22, 2016 by Elizabeth Pagano

The Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Real Estate Council of Austin and the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin teamed up yesterday to express their “concerns about the negative impact on housing that the City of Austin’s $3.7 Billion budget creates.” In a statement released by the groups, they note that the city does not process permits quickly enough as is. They write, “Strangely, with this new budget, City Council actually added more red tape and cut funding for additional permitting support, which will make a bad situation even worse. The City cannot reduce housing supply and expect prices to stop escalating at an astonishing rate. The City’s budget decisions will continue to stifle supply and increase the cost of housing. We encourage the Council to reverse its decision to cut resources from the Development Services Department (DSD) immediately.” Specifically, they object to the conversion of a new development services position to a Neighborhood Housing and Community Development position, a 10 percent cut from the “contractuals and commodities budget,” a cut in funding for the annual customer survey, removal of $250,000 that would have gone to training, removal of $106,568 for reclassification of positions and removal of $235,000 for funding of third-party plan review and inspection. A spokesperson from Mayor Steve Adler’s office told the Austin Monitor that the mayor shares the concerns expressed in the letter. “Overall, he wants to point out that this budget approved expedited permitting and puts millions more into permitting to make it cheaper and quicker to build,” he said. “But he voted against many of the amendments that they objected to, and he shares their concern.”

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