By Bill Oakey – May 22, 2022
Austin’s affordability disaster has reached every neighborhood in the city. Few people were surprised by the latest round of obnoxiously high tax appraisals. Our City leaders created this problem by marketing the city relentlessly, until the growth spiraled out of control. No other city in Texas has seen the steep rise in housing costs on the scale that exists here.
Our long term residents should not be shoved aside, just to make room for more luxury housing units. Instead, the City should look for ways to keep the older folks here. After all, we are the ones who worked, volunteered and paid our taxes, to create the lively atmosphere and high quality of life that makes Austin special.
It’s Time for the City to Implement a Full Range of Senior Discounts
I am making the following recommendations to the City Council to consider for senior discounts:
1. All fixed customer charges on utility bills – for electric, water, wastewater, trash collection
2. Admission tickets, services charges and parking fees for all events, both public and private, that are held at City-owned facilities or on City-owned land. This includes music festivals, wine tastings and the multitude of other events at Zilker Park, Botanical Gardens, Auditorium Shores, etc.The City’s contracts with private entities that use City parks and facilities should be modified to require senior discounts.
3. General admission and parking for City parks and City facilities at all times, even when no special events are happening. State and national parks already provide senior discounts.
4. Fees for all parking meters, parking lots and parking garages throughout the city. This includes libraries, City Hall and all other City facilities.
The City should roll out this initiative with a major public relations campaign. They should encourage all private businesses to partner with them and offer similar senior discounts. We are starting to see far too many luxury events with sky-high prices. And it can cost an arm and a leg just to park, before going in to these events. That’s fine for the folks who can shrug it off with a few taps on their phones. But, it’s high time for our City officials to recognize that Austin still has some of the local people who cannot light a cigar with a $100 bill.