Pflugerville City Council is about to take $84 more from the average homeowner next year—but one look at how city council is spending that money raises questions about if they really need more.

The city council recently proposed their new property tax rate for next year, raising it to the highest rate allowed by state law before having to ask citizens for permission. The city council raised the rate to take as much money as possible before 2020, when new statewide reforms will require them to ask citizens for their permission first before raising taxes more than 3.5 percent in a year.

But the council’s current tax hike raises the question: Do they need to take all that extra cash?

Given how they’re spending it, it’s certainly not all for city essentials such as police and firefighters.

For example, take the millions the city has spent on “economic development agreements,” a code term for special deals with the council’s hand-picked businesses.

Here’s how the deals work: Local officials take your tax dollars and hand them over to a business of their choice, giving them not only cash but often special favors and perks, such as tax exemptions.

To illustrate, imagine the Pflugerville City Council knocking on your door and demanding you pay more in taxes, then walking across the street and handing that cash to your rich next-door neighbor. Oh, and that neighbor doesn’t have to pay any taxes, either.

It’s not exactly justice.

The Pflugerville City Council has spent at least $2.84 million on these deals since 2011, and likely far more (some of the information on their special tax rebates for Marriott, Cinemark, and other companies is not disclosed to the public.)

What’s worse about these deals, aside from their ethical issues, is that they are pathetically unnecessary. Pflugerville took part in a special deal with Costco, giving them $6.25 million in tax rebates over 15 years as an “incentive” to come to town.

But that “incentive”—roughly $416,000 a year—is worth a staggering two ten-thousandths of a percent (.0002) of Costco’s $141 billion of one-year revenue.

That would be like an employer giving you a 15-cent bonus on your $50,000 salary, claiming it was an “incentive” for you to stay with the company.

And while council members are wasting your money on these needless and corrupt deals, they’re taking even more of your cash and claiming they need it for important things like public safety. The money from council’s special deals was enough to cancel several years of tax increases.

If Pflugerville citizens want to make their opinion known on the looming tax hike, they can contact their city council or attend either of the two budget public meetings on September 10 and 17. The city council is expected to approve the new tax hike on September 24.

Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.