Northwest Austin Edition | June 2022

CITY & COUNTY Public safety units weigh spending increases News from Austin & Travis & Williamson counties


HIGHLIGHTS HAYS, TRAVIS & WILLIAMSON COUNTIES Around 8% of registered voters in Hays, Travis and Williamson counties turned out to vote in the 2022 primary runoff elections. For the May 24 election, which included races for the Texas attorney general, select representatives and other state officials, 8.62% of Williamson County, 8.02% of Travis County and 8.25% of Hays County registered voters cast ballots, according to data from the Texas Secretary of State’s Office. WILLIAMSON COUNTY Over $72 million in federal funding will go toward improving water and wastewater infrastructure in Williamson County, the Commissioners Court announced May 24. Commissioners unanimously passed a motion to allocate $72.5 million of its remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds to carry out the new water and wastewater the projects. Prior to May 24, Williamson County had only allocated $36.5 million of its $114 million in ARPA funds. Austin City Council meets July 28 at 10 a.m. at Austin City Hall, 301 W. Second St., Austin. 512-974-2250. city-council Travis County Commissioners Court meets June 28, July 12, 18 at 9 a.m. at the Travis County Administration Building, 700 Lavaca St., Austin. 512- 854-4722. Williamson County Commissioners Court meets June 28, July 12, 19 at 9:30 a.m. at the Williamson County Courthouse, 710 Main St., Georgetown. 512-943-1100. MEETINGS WE COVER “WE ARE SEEKING REASONABLE GUN SAFETY LEGISLATION TO RESTRICT THE PURCHASE OF AR- 15 AND SIMILAR SEMIAUTOMATIC RIFLES BECAUSE OUR STATE LEADERS HAVE FAILED TO ADDRESS THE URGENT THREAT OF GUN VIOLENCE.” AUSTIN MAYOR PRO TEM ALISON ALTER, WHO IS SPONSORING A PROPOSAL TO RESTRICT FIREARM SALES IN THE CITY


PUBLIC SAFETY BUDGET FORECASTS Austin’s public safety units are planning for budget hikes next fiscal year.

fund spending in fiscal year 2021-22 and are each requesting budget boosts of between $5.2 million and $9.3 million for the coming year. The new budget outlooks from all three departments are based on direction from city management to “hold the line” on any spending increases beyond standard cost drivers this year, according to APD Assistant Director Michelle Schmidt. City budget planning will stretch through the summer with an ini- tial draft to be presented publicly in mid-July ahead of City Council review in August. No budget decisions are final until approved by council.

AUSTIN Austin’s three public safety departments are eyeing moderate budget increases for the coming fiscal year and will also ask city officials to consider funding other priorities, including several dozen new staff positions and millions of dollars for operations and other programs. Representatives with the Austin Fire Department, Austin Police Department and Austin-Travis County EMS presented their fiscal year 2022-23 budget forecasts to the Public Safety Commission on June 6. The three public safety branches made up nearly two-thirds of the city’s nearly $1.2 billion general

Austin Fire Department FY 2021-22

$219.4 million

FY 2022-23

$228.7 million

Austin Police Department

FY 2021-22 FY 2022-23

$443.1 million

$451.7 million

Austin-Travis County EMS

FY 2021-22 FY 2022-23

$105.8 million

$111 million

0 $100 $200 $300 $400 $500*

*In millions

APH expands COVID-19 vaccines to those under 5

CITY OF AUSTIN LIVING WAGE HISTORY A community working group convened in 2014 recommended that the city tie its living wage to annual cost-of-living increases. Adjustments ended in 2018. City living wage Texas minimum wage

$4/hr $8/hr $12/hr $16/hr $0/hr


AUSTIN Austin Public Health announced eligibility for Moderna and Pfizer-Bi- oNTech’s COVID-19 vaccines has been expanded to include children under 5 on June 21, days after federal public health agencies said young children may now begin receiving those shots. “This vaccine expansion comes at a critical time when we’re dealing with new subvariants and high community trans- mission,” Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority, said in a release.

Oct. 2008 Oct. 2003 Oct. 2012 Oct. 2017 Oct. 2021 Oct. 1998

City approves plan to lift Austin’s living wage to $22 per hour, a 46% hike SOURCES: CITY OF AUSTIN, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER


rolling out a living wage hike from the current $15 per hour. The change would apply to Austin’s thousands of civilian, sworn and temporary positions. Council’s vote came after officials heard testimony from dozens of residents and city employees who spoke to a need for higher pay.

AUSTIN Officials asked to push the minimum wage for city employees to $22 per hour this year, a more than 46% increase— although how the move fits into the Austin’s upcoming budget planning remains to be seen. City Council voted unan- imously June 16 to work on


Cases per 100,000 population: 174.81 New COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population: 2.2 % staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with confirmed COVID-19: 1.5%


Williamson County to restructure emergency dispatch communications


reconfigure the agency. The agreement, if approved, would require “potential organizational restructuring, personnel movement, management structure, budget impli- cations, and adjustment of business and operating

processes relating to law enforcement emergency communications and fire and EMS emergency com- munications,” according to the meeting agenda. “The part that we’re really talking about is a very small subsection of

how dispatching happens for law enforcement. That has been ... designed around a joint center, meaning the sheriff’s department, the consta- bles and most smaller agencies,” Commissioner Cynthia Long said.

WILLIAMSON COUNTY The Commissioners Court voted May 31 to move for- ward with a management control agreement that would affect emergency dispatch telecommunica- tions and could possibly



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