Metropolis council denounces Prop A, approves poll papers, and divulges the price

An upcoming proposal to mandate police staffing could cost the city nearly $ 600 million over the next five years. The city council is trying to bring this reality home with the newly adopted ballot language.

If approved by the electorate on November 2nd, proposal A, the Result of a petition campaign from Save Austin Now, would dictate some of the way the city manages the police. According to CFO Ed Van Eenoo, the changes would cost $ 271.5 million to $ 598.8 million over the next five years.

Van Eenoo’s calculations that are detailed in a memo dated August 10th, sparked immediate concern that was echoed by council members as they voted on the ballot papers for the proposed regulation.

The average annual cost of $ 54.3 million to $ 119.8 million, said Councilor Greg Casar, “will only devastate our existing urban services.”

“The cost of the ballot is the entire public library system, 20 rescue stations, 16 fire stations, the entire animal shelter, and then all 22 neighborhood pools and Barton Springs,” he continued, calculating that it equates to 1,425 positions for city workers .

Due to a new property tax cap imposed by state lawmakers, Van Eenoo has predicted the city will have to slash its existing budget or hold a tax rate election to meet Prop A, as city guides would be legally required to do should it happen.

In a statement released by Save Austin Now, co-founders Matt Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek responded to Van Eenoo’s memo.

“It makes no sense that our elected officials chose to dedicate $ 515 million to homelessness over the next three years and raise taxes again this year, while arguing that considering a return to decent police force the rising crime is financially impossible. “They wrote.” In a fast growing city with a $ 4.2 billion budget, we can afford public safety. What we cannot afford is to let this council run amok any longer. “

During Wednesday’s session, councilors took turns expressing their concerns about the Regulation proposal and ask for further clarification on the tax implications.

“To have two civil servants per 1,000 (citizens) at any one time, we essentially need to transfer,” Van Eenoo said. He explained that requiring officials to devote 35 percent of their time to community engagement means that the city must hire about 2.35 officials per 1,000 employees to ensure that the threshold is met without “unacceptable effects “On the emergency response is achieved. In addition, there are additional costs for additional plant capacity, equipment and vehicles.

“I find this point irresponsible from a financial policy point of view and certainly not a very conservative approach to our municipal budget. It ties our hands financially, ”said Councilor Leslie Pool. “If I could vote no today, I would.”

“That will bring chaos. I just can’t believe this group didn’t do their homework and submit something like that, ”said Councilor Pio Renteria.

The ballot language approved by the Council highlighted the potential cost of the regulation. It is reading:

To pass an ordinance that, at an estimated cost of $ 271.5 million – $ 598.8 million over five years – requires the city to employ at least two police officers per 1,000 residents at all times; requires at least 35 percent of patrolmen’s time to be untied time, also known as community engagement time; requires additional financial incentives for certain executives; requires special training for officers and certain officials and their staff; and requires that there be at least three full-time cadet classes for the department until the staffing level reaches a certain level?

During the meeting, Mayor Steve Adler claimed that it was not just the council’s right to write its own language for voting, it was their duty to state that it was their duty to reject a caption written by Save Austin Now.

He noted that state law actually forbids the council from using language that does not convey an appropriate image or leaves voters’ “key features”. In this case, Adler said, the original caption omitted the cost of the regulation, which he described as “the most prominent, most important feature”. The caption also made no mention of required staffing or community engagement and training assignments.

Attorney Bill Aleshire confirmed Austin Monitor that a lawsuit would be filed on Petricek’s behalf to put the original heading on the ballot or invalidate the language approved by the council, stating that the action to adopt the new language was against the city charter.

The city council unanimously voted in favor of the voting language, although Councilor Mackenzie Kelly voted to pass the proposed ordinance in lieu of an election.

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