A controversial new video is making the rounds online, arousing anger from many Texas taxpayers who can’t seem to keep up with the cost of government.
In the nearly 20-minute long clip, the now-suspended city manager for Bozeman, Montana discusses “a potential job opportunity in Austin” as its next city manager. But he apparently didn’t think much of the position or the city, calling the latter “a s***show.”
What’s more, he disclosed what Austin is considering paying its next city manager—and that number is simply staggering. According to the Bozeman official, “the proposed base salary for the position in Austin clock[s] in at around $475,000.” That exorbitant salary—which is higher than the President of the United States’ salary—represents a substantial increase over the previous city manager’s pay of $388,000. That particular city manager was, of course, “fired” last year after a botched response to a major winter storm.
Looking ahead, Austin’s next city manager will likely receive much more than just a $475,000 annual salary. That person will also probably be the beneficiary of a very generous benefits package offered. Here again, the Bozeman official shines a lot on what may be on the table, saying:
Like 475 or something, and then you just throw in the car allowance, the housing allowance, all the other stupid things that city managers get.
Depending on the richness of the benefits package awarded, Austin’s next city manager may receive compensation totaling $600,000 or more. That’s a hard pill to swallow when the average Travis County homeowner is being forced to pay almost $9,000 in property taxes this year and the average Austinite is struggling to afford gas, groceries, and rent.
Of course, Austin isn’t the only municipality to overpay its top administrators. Many other cities are also guilty of the same, as is made plain by the Texas City Management Association’s latest salary survey.
What all of this signals is a need for legislative action. It’s scandalous that an increasing number of local governments are enriching themselves at taxpayer expense (and with a defined benefit system in place, their reach is longer than many people recognize). It was never intended that public servants should get rich off the community they serve. And yet, that is where we are right now. It’s well past time for the Texas Legislature to get involved and reassert some restraint at the local level.
Otherwise, stories like the Bozeman blowup are only going to become more and more common.