Formula One hasn’t even arrived officially, and it’s already going to cost taxpayers even more than originally stated. The City of Austin (the same city that couldn’t afford to put on the $1 million Trail of Lights) is seriously considering dropping $5.5 million for a temporary customs facility for the upcoming F1 race.
The city council is looking at a no-bid contract at their meeting on Thursday. They won’t stop there – this is a stop-gap measure to build a larger, permanent facility down the road.
None of this has been vetted by the public. Taxpayers in Austin are usually subjected to this sort of treatment from the council – a slap-dash announcement is made within days of a formal decision being made, with the details worked out behind the scenes. And of course, the more ludicrous the expense, the more likely it is to come before the public after an election, as if the newly elected council has a mandate to spend, spend, spend.
This isn’t the only issue before the council on Thursday, either. The council is going to decide whether to adopt a single-member districts plan – but of course, not the one being championed by a broad coalition of city leaders and grassroots citizens, the petition signatures for which will be delivered to City Hall on Thursday. The $5.5 million for a temporary customs facility will likely be overshadowed, and public opposition will be muted compared to what will be present for the single-member district debate. No doubt the council is hoping that any real opposition to the customs facility will stay confined to talk radio and blogs like this one.
The Austin City Council is increasingly out of touch with the citizenry, and it is mind-boggling that they have the audacity to propose spending even more taxpayer money on the Formula One race that hasn’t taken place or proven its worth as yet. This is the city that is talking about property tax hikes to plug a potential $15.5 million hole in next year’s budget!
Contact information for the Austin City Council and Mayor Lee Leffingwell is available here.