City Council Approves Taxpayer Impact Statement

By Bill Oakey – August 6, 2015

On Thursday the Austin City Council voted unanimously to approve a proposal by this blog to produce a Taxpayer Impact Statement as part of the upcoming City Budget. This marks a major step forward for truth in taxation. When the final budget is adopted, taxpayers will be able to determine the actual dollar amount of any tax increase for a range of home values at various levels of appraised value increases. The Taxpayer Impact Statement, which will be included in the budget document and published online, will also include the estimated dollar increases City in utilities and fees. An amendment to the resolution calls for a set of “budget highlights” to be listed on the statement.

Many thanks go out to Council Member Elken Troxclair, who sponsored this item as a resolution, and to the co-sponsors, Mayor Steve Adler and Council Members Ann Kitchen and Sheri Gallo. And of course we are extremely grateful to the entire Council for their unanimous approval!

The Next Step Is To Ask Travis County to Follow the Example

On Thursday morning I contacted all five of the Travis County Commissioners and asked if they would consider supporting a similar Taxpayer Impact Statement for their upcoming budget. Commissioner Margaret Gomez was the first to respond, and she has gladly agreed to help. The best-case scenario would be universal adoption by all of our local taxing entities. Once all of their budgets are finalized, we should ask for a combined statement of the impact on taxpayers. I believe that good transparency will lead to a better appreciation of our affordability challenges, and hopefully, an eye toward more prudent budgeting.

American-Statesman Editorial Board Endorses This Reform

Here is an excerpt from their editorial:

WE SAY: AUSTIN CITY BUDGET
Tax deliberations need transparency, sensitivity for homeowners
Posted: 12:00 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015

By Editorial Board

“City watchdog Bill Oakey, who writes the “Austin Affordability.com” blog, has put together what he calls a ‘Taxpayer Impact Statement’ that spells out much of that data for city taxpayers. That is a good starting point.”

“And, if all five taxing jurisdictions put together such impact statements that also detail the total taxes and fees taxpayers are shelling out annually to those entities, it might generate the kind of sensitivity — and sensibility — needed in budget and tax deliberations. At the very least, such transparency would illuminate how spending decisions by elected and appointed officials affect taxpayers’ wallets from one year to the next. And that would enable voters to hold their elected officials more accountable”

 

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “City Council Approves Taxpayer Impact Statement

  1. Larry Sunderland

    How about citizens who request that the city increase regulations or oversight come with a cost analysis of those regs? Or suggest where cut scan be made to make up the difference.

    Reply
  2. Gonzalo Camacho

    A little info on bond debt per tax payer in Austin:

    http://www.texastransparency.org/Special_Features/Debt_at_a_Glance/City.php?cityname=Austin&citysubmit=GO
    $1,417 City of Austin

    http://www.texastransparency.org/Special_Features/Debt_at_a_Glance/County.php?countyname=Travis%20County&countysubmit=GO
    $564 Travis Co.

    http://www.texastransparency.org/Special_Features/Debt_at_a_Glance/ISD.php?isdname=Austin%20ISD&isdsubmit=GO
    $9,368 AISD

    http://www.texastransparency.org/Special_Features/Debt_at_a_Glance/College.php?ccdname=Austin%20Community%20College%20District&ccdsubmit=GO
    $2,208 Austin Community College

    Total $13,557 per Austin tax payer. It does not include state and federal debts. Fed debt is $154k per tax payer, increasing by the second. Our total debt per tax payer might be equivalent to having a $500k house mortgage.

    At some time people need to realize any tax, fee, or other generated cash by government is paid by those who work, mostly working class residents that have a mean family income of $56,351 per year (2013 per http://www.city-data.com/city/Austin-Texas.html).

    Last time I checked a family income of $56k can borrow 4 times its income or $224k which compares to the median house cost of $234,800 (2013 per http://www.city-data.com/city/Austin-Texas.html). But most of us know $235k woun’t buy a house within central city maybe in the burbs.

    We also know that 25% of income goes to housing and more than 50% of property taxes goes to AISD. The largest cost to tax payers (the workers) is not the city but AISD followed by Austin Community College.

    Either case. Instead of looking at taxes I would suggest to look at how to reduce costs incurred by AISD, Austin Community College, and City of Austin. For starters, government should get the hell out of economic development and focus on quality of life of working families.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s