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From Commissioner Shea, re: ARPA funds

  • Lani
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4 months 1 week ago #900 by Lani
To:         Travis County Commissioners Court
From:    Commissioner Shea, Precinct Two
Date:     May 10, 2021
Re:         ARPA funds
As we approach our next Court discussion on ARPA funds, I'd like to share a few comments on how I'm thinking about it: 1.      I want to focus on building back better, particularly by improving the resilience of those most impacted by climate change, which is disproportionately low-income communities.
 2.      I support exploring a participatory budgeting process for a portion of our ARPA funds, specifically for programmatic investments intended to improve the quality of life of Travis County residents.
 3.      I am committed to expending ARPA funds in a fiscally responsible manner, and it would not be fiscally responsible to deviate from the Financial and Debt Policies of the Travis County Commissioner’s Court, which states that “The County’s goal is to only use permanent revenue sources for on-going, permanent expenses. This means that one-time revenue sources (including ending fund balance) will not be used for on-going commitments. Temporary revenues are intended to be used solely for temporary expenses." This is one of the long-standing principles, traditions and practices which have guided the County and have helped maintain financial stability over many years.
 4.      I remain constantly mindful that unlike municipalities, which have diverse revenue streams, counties are almost solely dependent on property taxes. Furthermore, in 2019 the Texas Legislature imposed a 3.5% cap on Travis County’s ability to increase that revenue stream. As a result, Travis County is already in a struggle to identify sufficient ongoing funding for existing commitments (including, but not limited to, the full $13M+ annual cost of operating the Public Defender Office once the TIDC grant ends, and necessary increases to maintain existing efforts in all of the various direct social services Travis County provides to prevent residents from entering the homelessness pipeline).  I understand that tomorrow's agenda item is narrowly focused on how to structure the community engagement process for a to-be-determined portion of our ARPA funds. I am looking forward to that discussion but wanted to also provide a broader framework of how I'm approaching the considerable responsibility of being a part of the decision-making process for this incredible investment in our community.

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TAX RATE: TRAVIS COUNTY ADOPTED A TAX RATE THAT WILL RAISE MORE TAXES FOR MAINTENANCE AND OPERATIONS THAN LAST YEAR'S TAX RATE. THE TAX RATE WILL EFFECTIVELY BE RAISED BY 3.6 PERCENT AND WILL RAISE TAXES FOR MAINTENANCE AND OPERATIONS ON A $100,000 HOME BY APPROXIMATELY $11.00.

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