Have you heard about the Austin Water Utility spending $1,200 per click for online ads?
Two weeks ago, the Austin American-Statesman reported that a city employee “approved online advertisements to Austin Water customers with a marketing company totaling $67,000 between 2013 and 2016. That netted redirects from the company’s website only 55 times—at a cost-per-click of more than $1,200”.
Not only is that an obscene amount of money to spend on online ads, but it also begs the question: why is Austin Water spending money to advertise at all? The city has a monopoly on utilities and can update customers by including simple, cheap flyers in the mail!
Of course, this kind of waste isn’t terribly surprising given Austin’s pattern of taxpayer abuse (see its artist embed program, its wood-waste plant, its commuter rail, its taxpayer-funded lobbying, or its new social justice executive for example). But what has been surprising—in light of the Austin Water waste example along with all the rest—is the city’s Chicken Little-like cries against property tax reform.
Even in the midst of all its superfluous spending, city officials are issuing dire warnings about legislative efforts to rein in property taxes, saying that it “risk[s] police, fire fighting, EMS, parks, safety nets and transportation projects”. Mayor Steve Adler even blasted the idea in his state of the city address, claiming that it “threaten[s] to impose California style budget constraints so your Council can’t execute what you elected them to do.”
And so Austin finds itself in a funny position. One the one hand, it wastes gobs of tax dollars on a host of embarrassing programs and projects, while on the other hand, officials warn of a near-apocalyptic breakdown should tax reform pass.
Needless to say, watching this conversation take place at the state Capitol over the next few months should be interesting, to say the least.