Glasshouse Policy and Austin Monitor Breakdown City of Austin’s Budget

The annual budget process serves as one of Austin City Council’s most critical tasks.

However, the lack of broad public engagement around the process means — despite its critical importance to the city and its residents — the budget process remains far removed from the public.

The importance of the process lies in the pervasive impact budgetary decisions have on the city of Austin and its residents. From the bills we pay to Austin Energy to police response times, the budget touches every aspect of the lives of Austinites.

The prevailing public perception of the city budget creates steep barriers to community engagement. The word “budget” alone can scare even the most engaged, interested citizen. And, as we’ve learned, with good reason: the 2015 Budget was 764 pages. Additionally, discussions of the various funds, taxes, and bonds can make the barriers to engagement seem insurmountable.

This should not be the case.

Glasshouse Policy and the Austin Monitor are collaborating on a budget initiative to make the city budget content and the process surrounding it more transparent and accessible to all Austinites.

Through the Monitor’s coverage of the current budget process and department specific deep-dives provided by Glasshouse Policy, we hope Austinites will have a better toolkit to understand the local budget process.

This budget engagement and education initiative provides a vital new platform for Austin taxpayers to explore and impact the most pressing issues facing our city. These conversations are critical to ensure city management reflects the Austin we choose to call home.

Glasshouse Policy and the Austin Monitor want to help make these conversations easier.

The Glasshouse & Monitor budget initiative will break down barriers to engagement surrounding the local budget by improving community literacy on this issue through educational content and engagement opportunities. The initiative will highlight the importance of political engagement and participation at the municipal level by calling attention to the significance of decisions made by local officials.

To kick off the budget initiative, we have included a basic budget overview to lay the foundation for the conversations to come.

To further it all, and to meet the greater Austin community on terms that should be more digestible, Glasshouse Policy and the Monitor are producing a Budget Game Night on August 16. RSVP and details will be available next week.

We are excited to be working with the Austin Monitor to make to broaden and revitalize public engagement on the issues facing the City of Austin. Stay tuned for more information!


Glasshouse Policy is a nonpartisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit policy organization. The contributors and community partners who make our work possible have committed to more engaged, transparent, and collaborative communities.

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