Big decisions made in 2014
Changes to property taxes
- On Nov. 20, City Council approved a percentage-based homestead exemption of 0.01 percent, which ultimately could provide homeowners at least $5,000 in tax breaks. The tax break is projected to cost the city $3.2 million in foregone general fund property tax revenue during the next four years.
- As of Jan. 1 drivers in Austin can no longer have a device in their hand unless stopped. Motorists and bicyclists who use an electronic device while driving could face fines of up to $500.
Austin Energy generation plan
- In December the city updated its goals for creating more solar energy resources and reducing Austin's reliance on non-renewable energy plants. Austin Energy must now purchase 110 MW of local solar by 2020 with 70 MW coming from customers—usually through residential rooftop panels. Also, council in 2015 may approve the construction of a new natural gas plant in Austin to replace the Decker gas plant, which will be retired in 2018.
Top issues for 2015
New governance structure
- The new 11-member council will help lead a new governance structure that places more emphasis on committee meetings, more council meetings and opens the door for more community involvement, Mayor Steve Adler said.
'Deep dive' into larger issues
- Adler said he intends to change the methods through which council addresses city issues. Instead of issues being addressed "crisis-by-crisis" and decisions being made after visits from lobbyists, Adler said he wants "deep dives" into problems that arise during committee meetings to limit how much repeat legislation is needed to correct short-term fixes.
Preserving quality of life
- Many council members during campaigning promised to preserve Austin's quality of life by fixing ongoing traffic, transportation and affordability issues. Adler said he expects these issues to be tackled by the new council as a whole despite each district's differing interests.
Austin City Council meets at 10 a.m. most Thursdays. Austin City Hall,301 W. Second St., 512-947-2000, www.austintexas.gov/department/city-council
Terms and compensation
The mayor serves a four-year term, and council members either serve an initial two-or four-year term. Compensation is $70,074 for council members and $82,388 for the mayor. This is the first Austin City Council in more than 100 years to have representation based on geographic districts.
Meetings are televised live on cable Channel 6 and streamed online at www.austintexas.gov/department/channel-6.