IN THEIR WORDS: Why the Austin City Council shelved the ‘affordability action plan’

Eight out of 10 Austinites say the city has an affordability problem. But there’s less agreement on what to do about it.

The Austin City Council’s recent debate over a proposed “affordability action plan” revealed just how fraught the issue is. Five members supported the plan. Five others had serious misgivings. Council Member Alison Alter, who cast the deciding vote to indefinitely table the plan, lamented that “I can’t at this point vote for it, but I don’t want to vote against it, either.”

Some of the debate revolved around a piece of the plan calling for a budget option that would keep property taxes flat, a constraint that some members said was unrealistic, even with a suggested amendment by Council Member Jimmy Flannigan. Several members also said the plan failed to acknowledge the work the council has already done on affordability.

How did your council member vote? You can watch video clips from each council member explaining his or her position on the plan.

Mayor Steve Adler

Voted against postponing the plan

“The council’s sending a message to the community that we are in fact engaged and trying to do everything that we can do on affordability.”

Council Member Ora Houston, District 1

Voted against postponing the plan

“The fact is that people are being priced out.”

Council Member Delia Garza, District 2

Voted in favor of postponing the plan

“I wish I could promise my constituents that I’ll never have to raise your taxes. But the reality is, we have so many needs.”

Council Member Sabino “Pio” Renteria, District 3

Voted in favor of postponing the plan

“We’re having to pay back so much money to the state (in school taxes) and we’re here complaining about just increases of $5, $10 a month (in city taxes).”

Council Member Greg Casar, District 4

Voted in favor of postponing the plan

"This package is missing key components that serve many of our lowest income families and moderate income families who are struggling the most with the affordability crisis.”

Council Member Ann Kitchen, District 5

Voted against postponing the plan

“I don’t see an indefinite postponement as actually producing a result, and I do think a result is important.”

Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, District 6

Voted against postponing the plan

“What I’ve seen, as a member of the community, (is) the manager comes back with a budget that says here are all of the things that you want at a tax rate that upsets the community.”

Council Member Leslie Pool, District 7

Voted in favor of postponing the plan

“A lot of this is already under way. A lot of it has been done. Some of it shouldn’t be done.”

Council Member Ellen Troxclair, District 8

Voted against postponing the plan

An indefinite postponement “would be a slap in the face to the community organizations who have … had all these discussions to support this.”

Council Member Kathie Tovo, District 9

Voted in favor of postponing the plan

“I want to leverage our public dollars and not have different city departments repeating each others’ work.”

Council Member Alison Alter, District 10

Voted in favor of postponing the plan

“Given the size and the scope of all of these things, I don’t see where we’re telling staff to go.”

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