AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin City Council got its first glimpse Monday of the proposed budget for fiscal year 2019.
This year, the approach to the budget process is a little different.
A brand new City Manager, Spencer Cronk, is taking a fresh look at it.
At the Mexican American Cultural Center, Cronk delivered a "budget message" before Council.
In Cronk's speech he said one of the commitments he made when he took this job was to make the budget process more focused, streamlined and consistent with council and community priorities.
He said the goal is to make budget talks "smoother and more predictable" by including those priorities right at the beginning.
The proposed budget includes $1 billion in the General Fund.
Cronk says public safety is the biggest part of that.
--The budget includes $5.7 million for 33 new police officers and equipment.
-- $5.4 million for two new fire stations where the city most needs them: Travis Country and Del Valle.
--A $1.27 monthly increase in the transportation user fee.
--The homestead exemption goes from 8% to 10%.
--A living wage increase for city employees from $13.84 to $15.00.
--And no increase to health insurance premiums for employees and retirees.
Cronk talked about the impact on Austinites.
"We are proposing a small increase to your transportation user fee but for all other rates or fees for basic services...Austin Energy, Austin Water. Resource Recovery, drainage utilities for example are projected to remain flat or even in the case of Austin Water...to decrease," Cronk said.
There is some uncertainty in the budget. The city still doesn't have labor agreements with the Austin Police Association and the EMS Association.
City staff says they have place-holders in the budget for possible salary scenarios but Cronk says the goal is to secure those labor agreements before council makes final decisions on future staffing.