The Killeen Daily Herald reports that city officials misused public funds even while complaining about “a serious revenue problem.” The revelations come to light as the result of an independent audit that found that:
- Bond funds were used for unauthorized purposes, such as operating expenses, including salaries;
- Consistent analysis and planning for capital projects was not performed;
- Enterprise (moneymaking) funds were transferred to another fund to buy vehicles not used for the benefit of the respective enterprise fund;
- Former finance staff created an escrow account and used it to transfer funds and record liabilities;
- Pay raises were inconsistently applied, with some employees receiving both cost-of-living allowance raises and performance raises while some received one.
The audit’s findings reinforce the notion that Killeen has a spending problem, not a revenue problem even if officials would like to argue otherwise. And Killeen is certainly not alone.
There’s a growing body of evidence that cities are spending like drunken sailors. In Austin, city officials are wasting money to embed artists in different departments and on ill-fated ad campaigns. In San Marcos, the city spent tens of thousands on ten mermaid statutes. In San Antonio, the city spent hundreds of thousands on a stainless steel public toilet. And there are plenty of other examples as I told the Senate Finance committee earlier this year.
Given all of these examples, it’s getting harder and harder for opponents of property tax reform to make a convincing argument that commonsense protections will prevent cities from being able to provide core services.