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In a recent poll, residents of Austin cited rising property taxes as a major issue they face, iconic business are having to close their doors and longtime residents are moving out citing rising property taxes. Some have also cited homelessness as an impediment to business. How would you slow or stop the increase in City property taxes, encourage other taxing entities to do the same, and balance the requests for more funding coming from the City Departments and the public? One example of the request of more funding is to expand social service contracts to meet needs, including to provide more supportive housing programs. How do you balance less taxes and increased demand for social services? Please explain.

Bobby Levinski

City Council, District 8

Because this question addresses the same issue above as Question 8, I will repeat the following: “Having served as a three-time council aide, I have been behind-the-scenes working to balance the budget during several budget cycles. Over the years, my main criticism of our budget process is that it is often short-sighted. Council priorities get moved to the top so that a council member can have a political “win”, while longer-term financial goals like stabilizing the city retirement systems get put off to later years. My approach to the budget would emphasize building up our reserves and eliminating the use of the Budget Stabilization Reserve Fund as a one-time fund slush fund. If we can have the council start planning ahead more (as a body), we can reduce the incentive/necessity for near-term budget allocations.” We must start thinking more long-term in our budget allocations; otherwise, each year’s priorities just keep ballooning up from prior years. With regard to other entities, our council under-utilizes the joint committees with AISD and Travis County, where we are suppose to coordinate efforts and figure out ways that we can help each other in our missions. I’d like to see that committee restored to what it was about a half-decade ago, while also expanding partnerships with other school districts and counties.