September 21, 2016

City of Austin Budget Negatively Impacts Housing Affordability

Joint statement by the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Real Estate Council of Austin, and the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin on passage of the City of Austin budget

Austin, Texas (September 21, 2016) The Austin Chamber of Commerce, Real Estate Council of Austin, and the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin wish to express our concerns about the negative impact on housing that the City of Austin’s $3.7 Billion budget creates.

We hear every day from our members about the challenges their employees face when buying or renting in Austin. Currently (and historically) our city government does not process enough permits in a timely manner to build homes for the people who live here. Strangely, with this new budget, City Council actually added more red tape and cut funding for additional permitting support, which will make a bad situation even worse. The City cannot reduce housing supply and expect prices to stop escalating at an astonishing rate. The City’s budget decisions will continue to stifle supply and increase the cost of housing. We encourage the Council to reverse its decision to cut resources from the Development Services Department (DSD) immediately.

At last week’s budget hearing, a narrow majority of Austin City Council voted to cut significant funding and positions to the DSD including:

  • Converted 1 new DSD position to Neighborhood Housing and Community Development position (Planning Officer).
  • Cut 10 % from contractuals and commodities budget- $68,887
  • Removed funding for Annual Customer Survey – $55,000
  • Removed $250,000 from training, professional registrations and memberships.
  • Removed funding for reclassification of key positions – $106,568
  • Removed $235,000 (out of $450,000) of funding for the Third Party Plan Plan Review and Inspection.

Those resources are vital to the success of this department, and while we fully believe that the Director is capable of implementing the department’s two-year action plan and the Zucker Report, we are growing increasingly concerned that he will not be equipped with the resources to achieve these goals.

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