Early 2019 budget proposal draws concern in Austin

An early budget proposal for Austin has local groups on high alert. Right now it shows 15 new officers for the city. The Greater Austin Crime commission said Wednesday this is too little for how much the area is growing. While this is just an early proposal, the commission says they are voicing their concerns now in hopes of change before it does become final.

It's a concern over safety in the city.

"The Austin city council has failed to adopt even the minimum police staffing requirements since 2012," said Pete Winstead the president of the Greater Austin Crime commission. 

Winstead said now is the time to act when it comes to next year’s budget, "The crime commission in the past we've been slow to react to the budget and when we do come to city hall we find the budget is already done."

According to Winstead, the proposed budget shows enough for 15 new officers in Austin.

This is a fraction of the 56 which was recommended in a five year staffing plan presented to the city earlier this year. Winstead said Austin needs to keep up with the pace it's growing. "Under the old rules we use to say it took 2 police officers for every 1000 people as the staffing go think about the 107 people who move to Austin every day."

They aren't the only ones who would like to see more officers in the budget. "Once you lose public safety it's really hard to gain that back and to gain the trust of the public and the visitors," said Bill Brice the vice president of the Downtown Austin Alliance.

The Downtown Austin Alliance spends more than half a million dollars a year to pay off-duty officers overtime to patrol downtown. "Because we don't have enough police officers to maintain what we believe is adequate levels of public safety and public order on the street," said Brice.

Both groups are hoping their concerns will be heard before the budget is made final.

The Austin City Manager is expected to release next year's budget in August.