In final budget-planning stretch, Austin City Council debating 'HOT' reallocation

- The Austin City Council is in the final stretch of planning the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
               
Some major changes have been proposed to how the city uses "hotel occupancy taxes" or HOT funds for short.

Mayor Pro-Tem Kathie Tovo said the HOT funds have to be used in a certain way by law.  Some of the money goes to cultural arts but the city also has the right to use 15% for historical preservation.
               
Basically that's making repairs and maintaining Austin spots that may draw tourists in the first place like Barton Springs Pool, Oakwood Cemetery and the old Seaholm Intake Facility on Lady Bird Lake the city is planning on restoring for the public to enjoy.
               
Tovo said they were hoping the city could identify $11.1 million to get up to the full 15% they're allowed to use. 
               
But there were some concerns about how this would affect "Visit Austin" and the convention center.
               
City staff recommended only using $8.6 million in HOT funds this year.

"Really that's what we're spending some time talking about today, whether that's the correct amount and what it would mean to go from 8.6 to 11.1 but in general it's a very strong recommendation from the City Manager that we can use the money in the way that some of us have been talking about for years," Tovo said.

"What the staff is recommending is that we can leverage more community benefits than we have been from the last convention center expansion that we did.  That's good news," Mayor Steve Adler said.

Adler said later in the month they'll decide whether to start a new expansion of the convention center that would generate an additional $300 million over the next decade to spend on community projects.  That's part of the Mayor's "downtown puzzle."

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