Amid ongoing crises in public safety and repeated utility failure, Austinites now face the prospect of an unprecedented $5.5 billion municipal budget.

As unveiled on Monday, the proposed expenditures represent a 10 percent increase from last year’s previous record of $5 billion. It’s an increase of $1 billion from just two years ago.

As a matter of perspective, the city had a (still bloated) budget of $3.5 billion 10 years ago.

Former mayoral candidate Jennifer Virden explained the situation further on Twitter, noting that the council has piled up nearly $7 billion in debt, more than many other large cities in Texas.

Meanwhile, Michael Searle, who served as chief of staff to former Councilmember Ellen Troxclair (a current state representative), highlighted some of the most egregious items.

On the police budget:

[Note: “FTEs” stands for “full-time employees.” Police officers who patrol the streets are considered “sworn.” This means that the department is proposing to hire 47 civilians and zero officers.]

On homelessness:

On the convention center:

On “fund transfers” from the utilities:

During the recently concluded legislative session, legislation was introduced to abolish the Austin City Council. While the legislation died in 2023, it is expected to return in 2025. The legislation could return sooner if Gov. Greg Abbott adds it to the call during an anticipated special session of the Legislature in October.

The council will conduct budget review hearings over the next few weeks. City budgets are typically given final approval in early September. Concerned Austinites can contact their city council member.

Adam Cahn

Adam is a longtime conservative activist and an avid UT and Yankees fan.