By Bill Oakey – July 22, 2014
This blog has now passed the 10,000 mark for page views. That’s because here in Austin, 2014 has become the tipping point for affordability. We can no longer afford to stand by while public officials spend our money without serious accountability reforms. We need bold initiatives to steer us away from business as usual.
Nobody Will Tell Us How Much Money Is Left In the City Budget!
Year after year, the Austin City Council pads the City Budget with surplus funds, yet does not provide transparency for the taxpayers. Even the Council does not track the running surplus balance because they have yet to adopt my proposal to ask the City Manager to present quarterly reports on the breakdown of surplus funds to the Audit and Finance Committee. This blog and its followers were able to halt the spending of a $14 million surplus that was declared back in February. And with unfilled staff vacancies representing nearly 10% of the workforce still on the books, plus sales tax and permitting fees on the rise, we have no inkling of how much surplus funds could be used to lower taxes and reduce a water rate increase. It is time for all of us to hold them accountable!
What Can You Do to Help?
On August 5th, the City Council will hold their first work session on the budget. Now is the time for all of us and our friends to contact them and ask for full accountability on the surplus funds in the budget. If we leave it to the City Manager, the surplus will be quickly and quietly absorbed into new spending projects. Let’s ask for the detailed quarterly reports on the budget surplus, and insist that the full amount be applied to lower taxes and utility rate relief. You can contact all 7 City Council members with one click, using this link.
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