Austinites are in the midst of an alarming crisis, yet they readily chose to worsen it.
Local citizens are facing an affordability crisis, where many residents are being forced from their homes because they can no longer afford to keep up with runaway taxes and costs. The city council has played a significant role in causing this, sweeping up increasingly large heaps of money from the residents who need it most and spending it in record fashion. The average Austin homeowner is paying 80 percent more in property taxes to the city than they did just 10 years ago.
Yet on Tuesday, Austin voters overwhelmingly decided to give the city council nearly $1 billion more of their money to spend.
The $925 million bond was approved by a landslide and included spending for a variety of items such as government housing, creative arts facilities, flood mitigation, and fire stations.
Here are just a few reasons why the bond harms Austinites:
The bond enables the city council to take more money from residents struggling to afford their homes and use it to build apartments for other residents. Not only is that unfair, but how does forcing one Austinite out of their home and using their money to house a different resident solve any problems?
Secondly, the city council has a horrid track record of fiscal stewardship, overspending $140 million of Austinites’ dollars on a flood control tunnel that is plagued with flaws, and even giving away money to any citizen who applied through their “matched savings” program, a handout without any oversight.
On top of the poor stewardship, voters Tuesday also rejected a comprehensive audit of the city’s operations and budget, which would have identified ways to improve functionality and save taxpayer money. Not having an audit allows the city staff to continue mismanaging, wasting, and hiding what is really happening with citizens’ money.
Lastly, the city council also somehow couldn’t find $38 million for top-priority fire and EMS stations in their massive $4.1 billion budget, so they asked voters for more money separately to cover what should be the most basic priority for city officials.
In short, when you’re struggling to afford the city council’s rising taxes and costs, why would raising them higher make your situation any easier? You don’t put out a fire by pouring on gasoline.
Yet that was the decision voters eagerly made.
It is tragic to see more and more Austinites forced out of their homes because of the government’s increasingly unbearable taxes and costs. It is even more tragic for those same Austinites to opt for that.
Based on voters’ recent decisions, it appears more citizens will be displaced before any potential real solution comes. On the contrary, letting Austinites keep more of their own hard-earned money is a great first step to affordability for all.
Hopefully, for their sakes, that comes sooner than later.