Austin’s mayor, Steve Adler, has a plan to fix homelessness downtown, the Austin Business Journal reports.
The plan starts with increasing the hotel tax by 2 percentage points to 17%, which is the maximum amount allowed in Texas, and then using that extra income to provide services to Austin’s downtown homeless population.
However, the mayor said the plan would only work if the convention center is expanded. The mayor wants the convention center to become a mixed-use development with retail on the street level and two highrises, one with apartments or condos and one with office space. His goal is to increase tax revenue for the city with the expansion.
60% of the hotels in the area have to agree to the tax increase for it to happen and Adler’s theory is that they will be much more likely to agree if they have more customers due to the expanded convention center.
The mayor also wants a tax increment financing district to be created that encompasses the Austin Convention Center and will mean that any taxes raised in the area have to be reinvested in the Convention Center district.
Adler also wants to make the Waller Creek Tax Increment Finance Zone to be used for parks along the creek. It currently is set to end after being used to build structures to reduce flooding along Waller Creek. The parks will cost $100 million in bonds and $50 million in funding from private donors.