Travis County elected officials had a choice: Seek partners to share costs for a major road project that would benefit those partners or push all the costs on to Travis County taxpayers. The best and most reasonable option, to spread costs to reduce the burden on taxpayers, seems obvious. Nonetheless, three Travis County elected officials, Commissioners Margaret Gómez, Gerald Daugherty and surprisingly, County Judge Sam Biscoe, chose to hand the entire bill to Travis County taxpayers and try to recoup costs later. And they did it in such a way that denies voters their rightful say on a road project that will be financed by their tax dollars.
Their actions demonstrate a disturbing trend among too many elected officials, who have lost sight of the fact that they are spending other people’s money. As trusted stewards, they are called on to exercise solid judgment, restraint, due diligence and sensitivity in spending public dollars. Too often, however, our public officials don’t distinguish between spending that promotes investments in infrastructure, economic development, education, safety net programs and public assets and spending for the sake of spending. In the latter case, they don’t consider the public’s ability to pay or respect the public’s right to participate in determining spending priorities.
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