Austin’s mayor is adamantly against giving any power back to citizens, calling the idea “horrific.”
At Thursday’s Austin City Council meeting, Mayor Steve Adler gave nearly a 10-minute monologue bashing new statewide property tax reform currently being proposed at the Texas Legislature.
The reform would give citizens more control over their tax bills and is quite straightforward: If a local government, such as Mayor Adler and the city council, wanted to raise your taxes more than 2.5 percent in a year, they’d just have to ask you first.
Adler seems to hate the idea, and here’s what he had to say:
“That [reform] would be horrific for our city … if that were ever passed by the legislature, it would have a profound and significantly prejudicial and horrible impact on our city and how we operate and manage our city.”
Adler then threatened to cut core services such as police and firefighters if he had to ask citizens first for more of their money.
“Our community wants us to continue to pay our police officers more than anybody else pays … our community wants us to do something about the homelessness challenge that we see in our streets … but if this legislature actually follows through with a 2.5 percent cap, then we’re in trouble,” he said. “We’re going to have to start cutting things that are core to our values … it would fundamentally impact how we preserve the quality of life and our economy in this city.”
Again, here’s the truth: Even if the law passes, Adler can still raise taxes as much as he wants. He would just have to ask first.
But asking is something Adler and the city council aren’t used to doing when it comes to taxes. Current state law allows him to take up to 8 percent more of your money every year without your permission—and Adler has taken full advantage of that power. He and the city council are taking 80 percent more cash from the average Austin homeowner’s wallet than they did just 10 years ago.
And what have Adler and city council done with all that money? Take a look for yourself.
$450,000 for two public toilets, $115,000 to clean one public toilet, $140 million overspent on a disastrous tunnel project, over $1 million on a program that literally gave away taxpayer cash to any citizen who applied for it, over $200,000 on a government-run half-price bookstore, and a program that hired artists to city hall to simply “encourage creativity.”
And that’s just scratching the surface of their massive $4 billion budget. In fact, Austin City Council spends over $4,000 per Austinite, roughly double compared to other cities like Dallas or Houston.
But according to Adler, if they had to ask citizens before taking more of their money, then they somehow won’t have any cash left over to pay top-priority police officers.
If that sounds backwards, it’s because it is.
The whole point of new property tax reform is to give power back to citizens, to let them decide what to do with their own hard-earned money.
But according to Mayor Adler, that idea is “horrific.”
Austinites who want more power over their wallets can make their voice heard by signing a petition below to state lawmakers.