,  Austin Chamber of Commerce View All Reponses >>

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)

Mariana Salazar

City Council, District 1

No As part of the $4.1 billion dollars budget recently approved, Council approved to raise the effective property tax rate by 5.4 percent. It’s hard to tell a year from now what exactly I would support, given the different realities we may be facing then, but in general, I agree we have to carefully consider the trade-offs from the presumably better services residents will get from the increased city budget allocations and the increased taxes for residents that make it harder for us to afford to live in the city. We should always monitor city investments to make sure they are achieving their desired outcomes and we are not wastefully expending precious tax payer’s dollars. I think we can look at the budget to realize efficiencies. I think every year we should be reviewing the performance of all contracts and programs funded by the City and make sure they have a clear impact on the overall strategic direction that council has set and are achieving the desired outcomes. We should move away from having outputs as the only metrics of success for contracts and instead measure real outcomes. One area where the city could explore creating efficiencies is for example by consolidating the review and monitoring of contracts dispersed over various departments into one central unit, where they can all be consistently managed. For example, the City of Austin has not historically planned and coordinated its workforce development programs effectively and does not have sufficient and reliable data to evaluate the success of these programs. The City Auditor’s Office has found that contracts have been based on what the third parties had to offer, as opposed to meeting the City goals or established community needs. Moving forward, the city should streamline contract management to make sure contracts are achieving their intended impact.