Austin City Council spent roughly eight hours on the first day of their budget approval process Aug. 17 hearing public comments and questioning city staff from several departments.

One item that received significant attention is the proposed wage increases for city staff. Several council members, including Vanessa Fuentes, Chito Vela and Ann Kitchen, along with workers and labor groups, kicked off their day at a rally for an increased living wage for the city.

At the rally, advocates demanded a $20 minimum wage for city employees. The budget proposal from City Manager Spencer Cronk includes an $18 minimum wage and a one-time $1,500 stipend.

That proposed rate would cost $3.7 million, while a $20 rate would require $8.3 million-$14.5 million in ongoing funding.

During the Aug. 17 discussion, Austin Director of Human Resources Joya Hayes walked council members through several scenarios for pay raises, including an $18 minimum wage with a $1 per hour stipend for all employees and $2 per hour stipend for hard-to-fill positions.

Council did not take any action on the items. Around 6:30 p.m. the council adjourned the open portion of the meeting to take a break and hold a closed-session meeting. Mayor Steve Adler said the council would not hold any further discussions in open session for the remainder of the night.

Council will resume budget talks at 10 a.m. on Aug. 18.