Last year, city officials spent $150,000 to open “free” public restrooms that are accessible 24 hours a day and include a part-time attendant to “clean and restock the bathroom, enforce a 10-minute limit, as well as track hourly usage.” It’s a whole lot of city spending that looks something like this.

Reasoning that this was both necessary and good, Austin city officials gave the go-ahead earlier this month to spend even more taxpayer money on the program.

As earlier reported by the Texas Monitor:

“The Austin City Council at its regular meeting Thursday unanimously approved a $775,000 contract for a company to clean the city’s only portable municipal toilet.

The contract, bid on by just one company, Blue Chem, Inc., is an extension of a $272,000 pilot program approved by the council in June 2016 to test the viability of municipal toilets, particularly in downtown locations.”

The contract awarded to Blue Chem, Inc. could top out at $775,000 over a five-year period which is equivalent to the company being paid $155,000 annually. Based on that figure, if the company cleans the facility twice per day, then it’s estimated that the entire venture will cost taxpayers a whopping “$153.53 per cleaning.

Needless to say, the city’s flushing a whole lot of tax dollars down the toilet. Not that that’s a big surprise to anyone watching the Austin city council. But this particular example also signals a much larger problem: local government overspending(see pg. 50).

Local governments spend too much money, not just here in Austin but throughout the Lone Star State. It’s a big problem in need of a simple, commonsense solution.

One such solution is encourage the legislature to create a property tax trigger. As previously explained, the ideal trigger would reduce the rollback tax rate from 8 percent to 2.5 percent and require an automatic election if officials wanted to grow their revenues by more. It’s a good way to check excessive tax increases and also give voters more of a say when it comes to their tax bills. It could go a long way toward rightsizing local governments and putting up safeguards that make wasting taxpayer money more difficult.