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TOPIC: FY 2016 Dept. Identified Pending Budget Issues

FY 2016 Dept. Identified Pending Budget Issues 2 years 3 months ago #64

PBO has delivered their Preliminary Budget for FY 2016 to the Commissioners Court. This year, at the recommendation of staff, the Court adopted a new approach in the direction it gives to the Planning and Budget Office; that they should prepare a Preliminary Budget “at a tax rate sufficient to cover the cost drivers” presented to the Court back in March. The result has been a proposed tax rate of 42.61 cents per $100 valuation. That is 2.4% above the effective tax rate.

The Court also took the positive step of voting to increase the over-65 and disabled homestead exemptions from $70,000 to $75,000. This is an incremental step to help reduce the property tax burden on vulnerable residents.

As I have previously stated to the Court, my priority for the FY 2016 budget remains affordable and fair compensation for our work force. The price tag for that priority will occupy all of the discretionary revenue available to us in this budget year. Therefore, I will not be supporting any internal or external budget requests that are not included in the FY 2016 Preliminary Budget unless there is an identified funding source that does not necessitate a tax increase above the tax rate proposed in the Preliminary Budget.

To be clear, there is no doubt that our community has tremendous needs, and many of the budget requests by County departments and our external partners have merit. But we do not have the resources to consider programmatic expansions without considerable cuts in current programs or considerable increase in taxes. We will spend FY16 examining our programmatic priorities, our current distribution of funding, and strategies for additional funding to achieve our programmatic goals.

I urge the departments that have requested budget hearings this year to reach out to PBO and explore innovative ideas for funding these internally. This could be one or a combination of the following ways:
• Transferring funding from less functionally successful programs toward new/innovative ways to address the same challenge;
• One time funding for pilot programs while the department develops aggressive performance measures with PBO;
• Funding from special reserves (if available);
• Leveraging County funds to pull down grants (with the understanding that these would be treated as one-time); and
• Partnering with other governmental or nongovernmental entities to increase efficiency.

In the years to come, I hope that the Court will consider reversing our budget process by setting strategic direction at the beginning of the calendar year, building the preliminary budget to match those priorities, and monitoring the performance of our strategies throughout the year to inform our budgetary decisions.
Peter Einhorn
Chief of Staff
The Office of Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt
The administrator has disabled public write access.

FY 2016 Dept. Identified Pending Budget Issues 2 years 3 months ago #65

To clarify, Judge Eckhardt asked that I post this message.
Peter Einhorn
Chief of Staff
The Office of Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt
The administrator has disabled public write access.
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