By Bill Oakey – January 25, 2015
As 2015 gets under way, Austin is on the verge of the biggest era of reforms in decades. This is indeed a very exciting time. Mayor Adler and the members of the new 10-1 City Council are already at work developing the new Council committee structure. That will provide the framework for a brand new approach to bringing items to the full Council for decision making.
The public hearing last week to discuss the new committees was very well attended and quite enlightening. Most of the speakers expressed optimism that the new system will allow for better opportunities for public input. We all still have a lot to learn about who new proposals will be brought to the Council and how we can advance affordability reforms.
Here are just a few of the reforms that I will be working on with the new Council:
1. The 20% homestead exemption – We need to require private event promoters to pay their own way instead of asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars in fee waivers. The last Council asked the staff for input on some ideas to use funds from other sources besides the City budget to help offset some of the fees. Let’s hope the new Council movers forward in that direction. Every opportunity to save money in the budget needs to be considered. I have proposed limiting the percentage of unfilled staff vacancies, and disbursing funds to fill vacancies from a centralized account.
2. Truth in Taxation.
3. Reducing or eliminating Capital Metro fares for seniors and citizens with disabilities.
4. More improvements in transparency and a new public engagement ordinance.
Hopefully, there will some positive progress to report on very soon. Stay tuned!