Austin’s proposed budget of $ 4.5 billion restores most police funds from 2020, but officer numbers remain insufficient
The entire budget proposal is $ 4.5 billion – far more than the budgets of San Antonio and Dallas, both of which are significantly more populous.
“[T]The good news is, economically, Austin, TX has weathered many of the challenges of the past year in as good or better shape as any major city in America, âsaid CEO. Spencer Cronk unveiling the budget proposal.
More than $ 442 million is proposed to fund the Austin Police Department (APD) in the 2021-2022 fiscal year. Last year, after protests and riots that sparked an open conflict between police and protesters mingled with agitators, the city council moved forward with a $ 150 million cut and redirect to the ODA budget.
The current proposal represents an increase of $ 133 million over the amount allocated for the current fiscal year.
More than 30% of this total comes from the return under the ODA auspices of the forensic laboratory, monitoring of professional standards and support services such as the 911 call center. Neighborhood Police, which includes officers on patrol, is $ 3 million less than budgeted two years ago. Fewer officers on patrol make it more difficult to answer 911 calls.
According to department figures, the average response time has dropped from 7 minutes and 31 seconds to 9 minutes since last summer.
Another factor in the level of expenditure is an increased contribution to the police pension fund and two new classes of cadets.
Save Austin Now the group behind reinstating the ban on camping for the homeless, criticized the proposed budget and declared it inadequate. The ODA is short of 390 agents and bleeds 15 to 20 each month due to attrition.
This group launched another petition effort in May to restore funding to the police service and mandate a minimum staffing level of 2.0 officers per 1,000 population.
âThe vacancy situation is at a crisis level. The level of attrition that we have is getting worse every day, âsaid Matt Mackowiak, co-founder of Save Austin Now. mentionned Monday. “Even the proposed budget is totally insufficient for what we need to make our city safe today.”
Mackowiak pointed out the recent past anti-funding legislation of the 87th policee ordinary session as the reason why the city nominally “reimburses” its police service.
The bill imposes financial penalties in the form of frozen property taxes and triggers automatic de-annexation referendums for cities deemed to have funded their police services.
Cronk said in his statement: â[A]s Council knows we face a significant new challenge over the next fiscal year in the form of HB1900, a new state law that imposes catastrophic tax penalties on municipalities that cut police funding by a year to year. I want to assure you that our budget proposal for fiscal year 22 is fully in line with the requirements of the new law. “
This year to date, there have been 45 homicides in Austin – on track to double last year’s total.
“We don’t have a police funding crisis entirely, we have a police personnel crisis,” Mackowiak concluded.
The final budget will be adopted at a regular meeting on August 11 and council can make any changes it deems necessary.