Answer: Yes!

A quick look at the data shows that there’s plenty of reason to support a third-party efficiency audit of the city of Austin’s finances.

For fiscal 2018, the city’s budget totals almost $4 billion, which ranks on the high side compared to its peers. Of the big cities in Texas, only the city of Houston spends more. On a per capita basis, the city spends more than $4,000 per resident, which is far-and-away above other cities.

When it comes to local government debt, Austin also compares poorly. Currently, the city’s total debt ($9.9 billion) ranks as the 3rd highest amount in the aggregate but ranks as the 2nd highest amount per capita. Only San Antonio has more debt.

Initiating a third-party, independent audit of the city’s finances will help everyone—both policymakers and the public—get a firmer grasp on how Austin is spending almost $4 billion annually and whether there are opportunities to improve things for both taxpayers and those receiving vital services.