While Austin is amid an affordability crisis, Austin City Council is considering spending nearly $1 million for just 10 drinking fountains.
Last week, Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros released a memo detailing a new plan for 10 public drinking fountains downtown. Each station would include a fountain, bottle-filling station, and pet fountain. The city estimates the total cost for the project would be $700,000-$750,000.
On top of the cost to install the fountains, Meszaros said there’d be an annual cost of $63,000 to hire a full-time maintenance worker for the stations.
That’s right. A full-time employee to maintain 10 water fountains.
The city council’s pricey water plan comes in light of the council recently approving yet another tax increase, taking a record amount of money from citizens’ pockets. Compared to 11 years ago, the council is now taking 100 percent more from the median homeowner. The median city tax bill of $705 in 2008 is now over $1,400 today, and it is only going up.
In addition to taking more money from Austinites, the council has spent it in countless questionable ways: $115,000 to clean one public toilet, $450,000 on two public toilets, millions given away to citizens who simply emailed the city asking for cash, $140 million on a flawed tunnel, and nearly $1 billion over the past several years on an ill-advised biomass power plant that produced energy for only six months (the whole project has since been shut down because it was such an expensive disaster).
As far as the price tag for the new drinking fountains, Austinites will have to contact their council members before they make their latest spending decision.
“I think [the fountains] are going to be one of the things that we’re going to love,” one Austinite told KVUE News, “But that price tag … it’s just so hard to justify.”