AUSTIN, Texas - The proposed fiscal year 2020-21 budget for the city of Austin is at $4.2 billion, the same as it was last year. However, the city manager said this budget has focused investments in city infrastructure, core programs, and reimagining public safety.
Some highlights include allocating just more than $60 million to end homelessness, $3.5 million for economic injury bridge loans,$14.7 million for sidewalk improvements, and $5.1 million to crisis response. The biggest topic though for the more than 400 speakers Thursday was the Austin Police Department's budget.
Last year APD's budget allocation was more than $430 million. The proposed budget cuts police funding by $11.3 million, eliminating 100 vacant sworn positions and delaying cadet classes in the process. Many feel the cuts are not enough.
"I'm hopeful they will take heed to the community's voice and take a stand on the right side of this," said Chas Moore, president of the Austin Justice Coalition.
The Austin Justice Coalition is one group calling for a cut of $100 million. "Even $100 million isn't enough when you look at how much the police department gets from the overall budget," said Moore.
Moore believes reallocating that money to social services and programs will set the city up for success in crime prevention. "True public safety means that we invest in the community, we invest in people, that way we will get better outcomes," he said.
Others, like Joell McNew from the student safety program SafeHorns, feel the council may need to reconsider cutting too much.
Council will hold another hearing on July 30, before deciding on a final budget in late summer.