Proposed City of Austin budget could make construction permitting faster

The City of Austin is working on a budget for 2018.

Under the proposed $3.9 billion plan is some major relief for the "Development Services Department."

That means the permitting process for new construction could start to speed up.

In the budget the interim City Manager proposed to council last week, the Development Services Department would get 51 new positions plus about $20 million extra dollars for their budget.  Taking it from $37.5 million to $58.           

The goal is to improve "plan review turnaround times" and keep up with a growing demand for inspections.

The department said 80% of those new jobs will be dedicated to cutting down on the wait times.               

Mayor Pro-Tem Kathie Tovo said it's a tight budget this fiscal year.  She's heard the Development Services process is slow and said it's good for Austin to have an efficient one but she does have some concerns about these increases.

"This is a pretty large increase and I'm going to look very closely at weather all of those requests are really warranted.  We had a preliminary conversation about it last week as a council and our financial staff pointed out that the fees should cover most of those costs," Tovo said.

"We think that if the City Council cuts any of those 51 positions then we're going to continue to see bottlenecks and block-ups of these permitting processes." said David Glenn with the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin.

Tovo said the council will have their first vote on the budget in early September.