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Do you support a budget at the effective tax rate so home and business owners continue to benefit from the “growth dividend” and pay the same amount in property taxes as in the previous fiscal year? How do we balance this strategy with meeting the needs of people struggling to access services due to a lack of service capacity? How do you prioritize additional funding? Where would you look for efficiencies? (Y/N; Explain)

Steve Adler


No. The effective rate, generating the same revenue as in the prior year, does not allow for increases in health care costs, salary increases and inflation, among other structural cost drivers. The city does have a responsibility to be efficient and lean and protect public monies. The budget just passed by Council resulted in the second lowest increase in total property taxes and fees in recent memory. (The lowest was the first year of the 10/1 Council.) Keeping the city revenue at the effective rate would not result in taxpayers feeling any real relief. It is the state property tax (the money AISD is effectively required to collect and then turn over to the state) that has been responsible for 72% of all property tax increases over the last five years. This state property tax has gone up 288% over the last five years. Also, for the first time in recent memory, the Council is adopting a strategic plan to align council, staff and the budget. This process is requiring the council to deliberately set priorities and make choices. It’s also required the adoption of specific metrics so that funding can be evaluated for effectiveness. The Council needs to continue the process begun under the new City Manager to not add funding to meet these metrics, but rather to have departments identify spending that is not related to the strategic metric priorities so that revenues can be reallocated for new programs rather than requiring new funding.