Subject: City Budget Proposal Released

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Dear Neighbors,

In Austin, COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates are moving in the wrong direction, and we are rapidly approaching Stage 5 in our COVID-19 Risk Assessment.

We can each stem the spread of the coronavirus in our city by staying home as much as possible, practicing social distance, wearing masks, and following good hygiene habits.

As a city council we have chosen to be guided by science and fact, working closely with our Medical Director, Austin Public Health, and various UT experts. Our risk guideline framework called for us to reassess our approach when we reached a seven day moving average of 70 new hospital admissions, a threshold we have now passed. As of last Thursday, we learned that some of our spatial activity data indicated that Austinites were taking additional actions to curb transmission and we could wait a bit to see if those efforts work before needing to introduce any stricter measures (Stage 5).

At our COVID briefing on Thursday, we also learned that in Austin we are seeing that 30-40% of hospitalized COVID patients require ICU care. This means that we must now plan that Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity may prove to be a more critical constraint than hospital bed capacity in Austin. [Roughly we were anticipating a hospital bed capacity of 1,500. With 40% in ICU, we would need 600 ICU beds therein. We currently have 331 ICU beds and may be able to get up to as many as 474 ICU beds. Note: ICU bed capacity requires high levels of staffing (not just particular room equipment).]

With the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Travis County, Austin doctors released a public service announcement last week explaining the current situation and our trajectory. They warn that at our current rate, within three weeks the Austin healthcare system will exceed capacity, which would result in a shortage of trained healthcare workers, necessary medicines, and space within hospitals. Please watch their message and take precautions to protect yourself and others: wear a mask, only leave your residence when necessary, and wash your hands.
In response to the changing situation in Austin, the City is implementing two new ordinances, both approved at Thursday’s special called meeting. You may find the video of that meeting here, along with the posted documents. Each of these new ordinances increases the tools the city has to encourage compliance with public health requirements and offer related education.

Item 2 on the Council agenda created an ordinance declaring a site that fails to meet certain minimum standards designed to prevent the transmission of COVD-19 between humans as a nuisance, and authorized civil enforcement.

Item 3 authorized the health authority to adopt rules to protect individuals from COVID-19, creating an offense and penalty. Anyone who knowingly violates a health authority rule can be fined up to $2000 for each offense.

I would like to remind you that, by state mandate, masks are now required whenever you go out in public, with limited exceptions
Additional public health rules may be released this week by the Travis County Health Authority. 

As a community we need to flatten the curve to avoid overwhelming our hospitals and ICUs AND to create an environment where our children can safely return to school. I implore you to social distance and wear your masks. Every one of us must do our part to keep us all safe.

While we are in the midst of the pandemic, City business continues. Yesterday, the City Manager delivered his proposal for the FY21 budget. I have just begun my review and I encourage you to do the same. Below you will find a centralized hub for documents and ways to get involved with the City’s budget process as well as information on District 10 specific budget engagement options.

In this newsletter, I also have included updates on how to access COVID-19 programs and initiatives, changes to City operations as a result of COVID-19, and information regarding District 10 mobility projects.

Take care,

Alison Alter
Council Member, District 10
Table of Contents
  • FY21 Budget - Get Involved
  • Small Business and Non-Profit Relief Grant Applications
  • Map of COVID-19 Testing Sites
  • Neighborhood Testing Updates
  • How to Help Campaign
  • Changes to City Operations
  • City/County Parks Updates
  • Spicewood Springs Road Update
  • Redbud Trail Bridge Project Update
FY21 Budget - Get Involved

City Manager Spencer Cronk presented his budget proposal for the FY21 fiscal year to Council Monday afternoon via a special called meeting. The budget is 924 pages long, and as I begin my review of the proposal and its related documents, I encourage you to do the same. 
Public input sessions are scheduled for July 23 and 30th. Details for speaker registration will be shared via our newsletter once released. Final budget deliberations are scheduled to begin on August 12, 2020.

Budget Survey

As your representative, I want to hear your perspective on the proposed budget and your ideas for amendments. Please fill out this form if you want to share your budget priorities with me and the D10 team.

Office Hours
The District 10 team will be holding scheduled office hours over the coming weeks:
Sign up to reserve a spot by clicking your preferred date and registering via Eventbrite. Each session is limited to 20 participants to allow time for discussion between all parties. 

Small Business and Non-Profit Relief Grant Applications

This spring I worked with my council colleagues to provide dedicated financial support to local small businesses and non-profit organizations. I’m pleased to announce that City is now taking applications for these funds. Applications for these grants will be accepted until July 24, 2020 at 5 p.m. 

The City of Austin Economic Development Department has implemented two grants to support and sustain local, small businesses as well as local non-profit organizations that are facing extreme hardships due to economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Austin Small Business Relief Grant is a $16.5 million fund that will provide grants up to $40,000 to local, small businesses in Austin city limits, including sole proprietors. 

The Austin Non-Profit Relief Grant is a $6.35 million fund that will provide grants up to $20,000 to Austin non-profit organizations serving in specific areas of need.

The Better Business Bureau of Austin will collect, review, and score applications on behalf of the Economic Development Department. BBB will also provide consultation and case management services to grant applicants.

Map of COVID-19 Testing Sites

As more COVID-19 testing sites come online, Austin Public Health (APH) has launched a new, accessible map Austin-Travis County residents can use to locate COVID-19 testing sites.
The map, which will be available on, shows stationary and mobile COVID-19 test locations throughout Austin and the surrounding area. The map also includes information on the site operating hours and which lab the company uses for processing the tests.

Along with APH-operated sites, the map shows other testing options for those who have insurance or a primary care provider. APH encourages people who have insurance to utilize other testing sites so we can be the safety net for those without insurance or a primary care provider.

In Austin-Travis County, COVID-19 testing is offered at pharmacies, urgent care centers and other private testing locations. Individuals with insurance should not be charged for the standard PCR COVID-19 test per the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (PDF) and the CARES Act, both passed by Congress in March, but people should contact their doctor and insurance company to determine the location to take the test.

For providers that would like their information added to the map, they can do so here.
Testing location information is provided by independent testing providers. The City of Austin has not verified the accuracy of reported locations. The City of Austin is not responsible for the medical or testing services provided.

For more information and updates, visit

Neighborhood Testing Updates

Last week, Austin Public Health (APH) rolled out two neighborhood testing sites and introduced a third location on July 13. These free testing sites will be in addition to the existing APH drive-thru testing site, and are designed to serve the historically underserved neighborhoods they are located in. The locations have been identified for the accessibility to the community in areas that data has shown to be the most impacted by COVID-19.

The neighborhood testing locations are:
  • Southeast Branch Library: 5803 Nuckols Crossing Rd, Austin, TX 78744
  • Little Walnut Creek Branch Library: 835 W. Rundberg Ln, Austin, TX 78758
  • Givens Park: 3811 E. 12th St, Austin, TX 78721

Due to limited testing availability at the neighborhood sites, APH encourages anyone able to obtain their test through their private health insurance to do so. Information on symptoms, testing, and care available via Austin Public Health's COVID-19 hub.

How to Help Campaign

Looking for safe and effective ways to help our community during COVID-19? The City of Austin created a How to Help hub with opportunities to volunteer with or donate to local organizations providing help and assistance to Austinites impacted by the pandemic. With your support our community will stay healthy, safe, and connected. 

Spread the word, learn more, and offer your help at the How to Help campaign
Changes to City Operations

Prompted by the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the City of Austin is modifying City operations in the following areas:

  • Austin Code Department (ACD): Administrative hearings for the Austin Code Department are being pushed back one week. Therefore, the new start date will be July 15 instead of the original July 8 date.
  • Austin Public Health (APH): APH has reopened a Shots for Tots clinic with limited operations. APH will need to prioritize those who are at higher risk of severe symptoms as services expand. Those who do not already have an established health provider for their child are encouraged to establish patient care for regular well-child checks and vaccinations. Families may also utilize to find locations providing vaccinations near you.
  • Austin Resource Recovery (ARR): ARR will once again suspend the curbside collection of bulk and large brush after a three-week resumption of the services. ARR will still provide these collections for customers who have already received a notification postcard for the weeks of July 6 - July 24. Customers can view their collections schedule by searching their address using the My Schedule tool online or downloading the app to their mobile devices. 
  • Recycle and Reuse Drop Off Center (RRDOC): In early June, the RRDOC had begun accepting customer drop-offs by appointment only and collecting household hazardous waste (HHW) from customers' homes. Due to the increasing COVID-19 concerns, and for the safety staff and residents, the RRDOC will once again close until further notice after July 3, 2020. ARR will, however, continue to offer contactless, at-home collection of HHW; customers can call (512) 974-4343 to schedule a pick-up.
  • Goodwill Partnership: ARR has partnered with Goodwill of Central Texas on the Clothing & Housewares Curbside Collection Program, which allows customers to schedule free at-home pick-up of unwanted clothing, shoes, accessories, toys, linens and housewares. Customers can visit or call 512-637-7190 for more information about the program and to schedule a clothing and housewares pick-up.
  • Austin Water Utility: The main gate and treatment pond area at Hornsby Bend has reopened to the public. All visitors are required to check in at the main entry gate. The River Trail and Platt Lane Trail are also open and accessible for hiking and biking activity. All visitors must follow social distancing guidelines and wear a mask while visiting Hornsby Bend.
  • Office of the City Clerk (OCC): Between July 6 and July 17, OCC will have staff in the office on a rotating basis preparing for the upcoming candidate filing period and Council budget meetings. During this period, the Office will be open by appointment only during the hours of 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Starting Monday, July 20, the office will be open with reduced staff to accept in-person public inquiries including accepting ballot applications, petitions, and liquor licenses. The Office will continue to encourage visitors to make an appointment. When the Office is open, OCC will only allow two (2) visitors in the office at any given time. If there are more than two visitors, they will be asked to wait in the atrium until called upon.
City and County Parks Update

While you can still visit City parks, please keep in mind that as of July 6 pools, pavilions, athletic fields, and other amenities are closed to the public in response to changing COVID-19 projections. If you visit a park, remember to take the necessary precautions to keep yourself and others safe. Before going to a park, please visit PARD’s website to check for updated information regarding facility closures.

Travis County Parks recently reopened a limited number of parks walking, hiking, and biking. While athletic fields, pavilions, playgrounds, picnic tables, and BBQ grills remain closed, you are welcome to visit the parks listed here to enjoy the summer weather. Please wear a mask and social distance within the park and check the Travis County Parks website for park closures before visiting. 
Spicewood Springs Road Update

Spicewood Springs Road Regional Mobility Project has reached its 60% design milestone. The project will expand Spicewood Springs Road between Loop 360 and 0.2 miles west of Mesa Drive to two vehicle lanes in each direction with a new raised median with left-turn bays, and a shared use path on both sides of the road for people walking and people riding bikes. The project will also install new stormwater facilities along the road.

A new shared use path for people walking and people riding bikes has been added to this project near Mesa Drive, which will convert the existing 6 foot sidewalk to an 8 foot continuous shared use path on both sides of Spicewood Springs Road from 0.2 miles west of Mesa Drive to Mesa Drive. This section of shared use path was not included in the original scope of this project, but has been added to increase safety and connectivity through the area for everyone using the street.

Additionally, the project team is coordinating with Austin Water on potential wastewater upgrades of an existing 18 inch wastewater line. The project team is also coordinating with Austin Water on new water lines and other potential water system improvements. This construction will take place at the same time as construction of the roadway project.

Learn more at the project website.

Redbud Trail Bridge Project

Preliminary work continues on the Redbud Trail Bridge project:
  • All public comments were reviewed and addressed.
  • The proposal for Final Design phase has been finalized and will be presented to the Water/Wastewater Commission on July 15, 2020.
  • The Final Design phase proposal will be presented to City Council for authorization on July 30, 2020.
  • An in-depth inspection of the bridge will be conducted by hired consultants in late July.
  • Final Design phase for the new bridge is expected to begin in late Fall 2020.
The City will be conducting bridge maintenance repairs July 20 - Aug. 20. The repairs will be on one of the bridge abutments underneath the road on the north side of the bridge. All of the work will be conducted below the bridge on boats and by divers.

There will be a lane closure on the bridge 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, in order to stage repair equipment. Learn more about the project at its website.

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