Austin, Texas

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Austin, Texas
Seal of Austin, TX.png
General information
LeeLeffingwell.jpg
Mayor:Lee Leffingwell
Mayor party:Nonpartisan
Last mayoral election:2012
Next mayoral election:2014
Last city council election:2012
Next city council election:2014
City council seats:7
2013-2014 FY Budget:$3.3 billion
City website
Composition data
Population in 2013:885,400
Gender:49.4% Female
Race:White 68.3%
Hispanic or Latino 35.1%
African American 8.1%
Asian 6.3%
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 0.9%
Two or More 3.4%
Unemployment:3.5%
Median household income:$52,431
High school graduation rate:86.1%
College graduation rate:44.8%
Related Austin offices
Texas Congressional Delegation
Texas State Legislature
Texas state executive offices
Austin is the state capital of Texas. It is located in Travis County, and as of 2013 its population was 885,400.[1]

City government

Since 1924, the city of Austin has utilized a council-manager system.[2] In this form of municipal government, an elected city council, which includes the mayor and serves as the city's primary legislative body, appoints a chief executive called a city manager.[3][4]

City manager

The city manager is Austin's chief executive. The responsibilities of the city manager include overseeing the city's day-to-day operations, planning and implementing the city's operating budget and appointing one deputy city manager, five assistant city managers and the directors of the city's governmental departments. Austin's current city manager is Marc Ott.[3]

Mayor

The mayor presides over city council meetings and official city ceremonies. Lee Leffingwell is the current Mayor of Austin.[2]

City council

The Austin City Council is the city's primary legislative body. It is responsible for approving and adopting the city budget, levying taxes and making or amending city laws, policies and ordinances. The council also possesses the legal authority to inquire into the conduct or activities of city departments, agencies and individual employees.[5]

Membership

For most of its recent history, Austin featured a city council with a total of seven seats including the mayor. All were elected at-large and served a maximum of three, three-year terms. The results of Austin's November 2012 elections, however, altered this arrangement. The citizens of Austin approved two propositions (2 and 3) that collectively created four new council seats; established ten new districts within the city; and set council and mayoral term limits to two, four-year staggered terms. The mayor will still serve on the council as its eleventh member. These changes are to take effect in conjunction with the November 2014 elections.[6][7]

In Austin, this rearrangement has become known as "10-One," in reference to the ten district-based council seats and the mayor. For more information, see here and Redistricting.

A current list of city council members can be found here.

Meetings

The Austin City Council meets every other Thursday throughout the year. The council's calendar can be viewed here. Council meetings are also aired on the city's government access channel: ATXN.

Boards and commissions

A series of advisory boards and commissions that are made up of non-elected citizens, whom city council members have appointed and approved, advises the Austin City Council. The roles of these boards and commissions are to review, debate and comment upon city policies and legislation and to make recommendations to the city council.[8]

For a full list of Austin city boards and commissions, see here.

Elections

2014

See also: Austin, Texas municipal elections, 2014

The city of Austin, Texas will hold elections for mayor and city council on November 4, 2014. The candidate filing deadline was August 18, 2014. Ten city council seats are up eleciton.[9]

City of Austin redistricting map.

Redistricting

In conjunction with the November 2014 elections, the city of Austin is implementing the "10-One" plan, the impact of which is that city council members will now be elected by ten new districts instead of being elected at-large. The new districts can be seen on the map to the right. The "10-One" plan also expands the size of the city council from 7 to 11 (the eleventh member is the mayor, who is still elected at-large).

Budget

Austin's proposed budget for fiscal year 2014-2015 was $3.5 billion - approximately $200 million more than the adopted operating budget for fiscal year 2013-14. Of that $3.5 billion, $850.6 million constituted the general fund - funds used to maintain the city's basic infrastructure and day-to-day operations.[10] The proposed budget provided funding for fifty-nine new police officers, seventeen new hires at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, a 3.5% pay increase for city employees and a 1% increase for elected officials. The budget also decreased property taxes by roughly 4%.[11][12]

Contact information

Office of the City Clerk
P.O. Box 1088
Austin, TX 78767
Phone: (512) 974-2210

Office of the Mayor
P. O. Box 1088
Austin, TX 78767
Phone: 512-974-2250

See here to contact individual council members.

Ballot measures

See also: Travis County, Texas ballot measures

The city of Austin is in Travis County. A list of ballot measures in Travis County is available here.

Initiative process

See also: Laws governing local ballot measures in Texas

Population as of the July, 2011 census update: 820,611.[1] Austin is a charter city. Signature requirement is 10% of the qualified voters of the city. Petition form requirements are in Austin Charter, Art. IV, Sec. 3. File petitions with the city clerk. After certification, the council has 10 days to pass or submit without amendment to a vote of the qualified voters of the city at a regular or special election to be held on the next allowable election date authorized by state law after the certification to the council. Charter specifies that cannot use initiative for ordinances appropriating money or authorizing the levy of taxes.

DocumentIcon.jpg Austin Charter, Art. IV

Lobbying

See also: Texas government sector lobbying

The City of Austin maintains a list of all lobbyists registered with the city. It can be found here.

Federal lobbying

In 2013, Austin spent a total of $280,000 on federal lobbying. The city filed four reports each for the following two issues: Federal Budget and Appropriations; Transportation and Urban Development.[13]

Below is a survey of Austin's federal lobbying expenses between 1998 and 2013.[13]

Year Amount spent on lobbying
2013 $280,000
2012 $280,000
2011 $280,000
2010 $280,000
2009 $240,000
2008 $80,000
2007 $40,000
2006 $40,000
2005 $80,000
2004 $0
2003 $20,000
2002 $0
2001 $0
2000 $80,000
1999 $130,000
1998 $120,000

City website evaluation

Grade2.pngC
Budget Y
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Meetings Y
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Elected Officials P
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Administrative Officials P
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Permits, zoning
{{{1}}}
Audits Y
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Contracts Y
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Lobbying P
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Public Records P
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Local Taxes
{{{1}}}

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Transparency grading process

The good

  • Elected officials are listed with a mailing address and phone number.[14]
  • Department heads are listed for each department.
  • Contact information for administrative officials is provided, including a mailing address and phone number.[15]
  • The most current budget is listed.
  • Budgets are archived for 12 years.[16]
  • The most recent audit is posted.
  • Audits dating back to 1998 are available.[17]
  • Meeting minutes are archived back to 1869.
  • Meeting agendas are archived for 10 years.
  • A meeting calendar is available and names the times and locations of public meetings.
  • Meeting video or podcasts are available.[18]
  • The public information officer is identified and maintained by the Communications and Public Information Office. This office provides a mailing address, phone number and personalized email.
  • A public records form is provided by the Communications and Public Information Office.
  • Requests are able to be submitted online.[19]
  • Names, contact information and responsibilities of the ethics review board members are published.[20]
  • Campaign Finance Reports are published.[21]
  • Bids and RFPs are posted online.
  • Approved contract statements are provided for vendors.[22][23]
  • Lobbyists' names are published.[24]
  • Zoning ordinances are posted online.
  • Permit applications can be downloaded on the site, along with information on how to apply for the permits.[25][26]
  • Tax revenues are broken down by federal, state, and local funding in the budget.
  • Local taxes, like property taxes, are available online.
  • Residents are able to pay taxes online.[27]

The bad

  • Personalized email addresses are not listed for elected officials. Instead, an email form is provided in some cases.[28]
  • Personalized email addresses are not listed for elected officials. Instead, an email form is provided.[14]
  • A fee schedule for documents is not provided.[29]
  • Costs associated with lobbyists and memberships to government sector lobbying associations are not included.

See also

External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 U.S. Census, "State and County Quick Facts," accessed on August 11, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 City of Austin, "Government," accessed on August 11, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 Office of the City Manager, "About," accessed on August 19, 2014
  4. Austin City Charter V 1-3, accessed on August 26, 2014
  5. Austin City Charter: Article II accessed on August 20, 2014
  6. Daily Texan Online, "City Propositions 1 and 2 Pass: Austin to have November City Elections," November 7, 2012
  7. The Austin Bulldog, "10 to 1 Plan to rule council elections," November 7, 2012
  8. City of Austin, "Boards and Commissions," accessed on August 18, 2014
  9. City of Austin, "2014 Election Calendar," accessed May 14, 2014
  10. City of Austin FY 2013-14
  11. City of Austin, "Proposed Budget Highlights. Fiscal Year 2014-2015," accessed on August 19, 2014
  12. Time Warner Cable News: Austin, "City Council Gets First Look at 2015 Budget," July 31, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 Open Secrets "City of Austin," accessed on August 12, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 City of Austin, "City Council," accessed on January 28, 2013
  15. City of Austin, "Directory," accessed on August 12, 2004
  16. City of Austin, "Budget," accessed on August 12, 2004
  17. City of Austin, "Budget," accessed on August 12, 2004
  18. City of Austin, "Agendas and Schedule," accessed on August 12, 2004
  19. City of Austin, "Public Records," accessed on August 12, 2004
  20. City of Austin, "Ethics Review Commission," accessed on August 12, 2004
  21. City of Austin, "Campaign Finance Reports," accessed on August 12, 2004
  22. City of Austin, "Contracts," accessed on August 12, 2004
  23. City of Austin, "Current Contracts," accessed on August 12, 2014
  24. City of Austin, "Lobbyist Information," accessed on August 12, 2004
  25. City of Austin, "Zoning," accessed on August 12, 2004
  26. City of Austin, "Permits," accessed on August 12, 2004
  27. City of Austin, "Financial Services Online," accessed on August 12, 2004
  28. City of Austin, "Directory," accessed on August 12, 2004
  29. City of Austin, "Public Records," accessed on August 12, 2004