The proposed $ 4.5 billion budget recovers most of the police funding from the 2020 cut, but officials are still lacking staffing levels


A year after the massive quarterly budget cut and the diversion from police funding, the city of Austin has 2021-2022 first budget proposal restores this funding above the 2019 level.

The total proposed budget is $ 4.5 billion – far more than the budgets of San Antonio and Dallas, both of which have significantly more residents.

“[T]he good news is that Austin, Texas, weathered the many challenges of the past year economically as well or better than any other major city in America, ”said City Manager Spencer Cronk when presenting the budget proposal.

Over $ 442 million is proposed to fund the Austin Police Department (APD) through fiscal 2021-2022. Last year, after protests and riots that sparked open conflict between police and protesters with agitators, the city council moved with one Cut and redirect $ 150 million to the APD budget.

The current proposal is an increase of $ 133 million over the amount allocated for the current fiscal year.

More than 30 percent of this amount came from the reintegration of the forensic laboratory, supervision of professional standards and support services such as the 911 call center under the umbrella of APD. The neighborhood police category, which includes cops on patrol, is $ 3 million less than the budget amount two years ago. Fewer officers on patrol make it more difficult to respond to emergency calls.

According to department numbers, the average response time has increased from 7 minutes and 31 seconds to 9 minutes since last summer.

Another factor in the level of spending is an increased contribution to the police’s retirement provision and two new cadet classes.

Now save Austin that Group behind reinstating the homeless camping ban, criticized the proposed budget, claiming it was insufficient. APD is just under 390 civil servants and bleeds 15 to 20 every month until they are worn down.

This group started Another petition in May to restore funding to the police department and mandate a minimum staffing of 2.0 officers per 1,000 residents.

“The vacancy situation is at a crisis level. The turnover we have is getting worse every day, ”said Matt Mackowiak, co-founder of Save Austin Now said Monday. “Even the proposed budget is completely sufficient for what we need today to make our city safe.”

Mackowiak pointed out the recently passed Anti-Police Defunding Legislation from the 87ththe regular meeting as a reason for the city to nominally “reimburse” its police department.

The law provides for fines in the form of frozen property taxes and triggers automatic referendums on deannexation for cities that have exempted their law enforcement agencies.

Cronk said in his statement: “[A]The Council knows that we will face a significant new challenge in the coming financial year with HB1900, a new state law that will impose catastrophic tax penalties on municipalities that cut police funds year-on-year. I would like to assure you that our budget proposal for FY22 fully meets the requirements of the new law. “

There have been 45 homicides in Austin so far this year – on the way to double the total from last year.

“Not only do we have a police financial crisis, we have a police personnel crisis,” concluded Mackowiak.

The final budget will be approved at a regular meeting on August 11th and the council can make any changes it deems necessary.

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