The costs of a growing city : a case study of Austin, Texas from 1982-2011

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2013-05

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Ellinor, Benjamin Daniel

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This report explores the effects of rapid growth in Austin, Texas, with an emphasis on local government budgets, service delivery, and citizen satisfaction. The relationship between urban growth and public finances has been studied extensively, but a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between growth and public finances, service delivery performance, and citizen satisfaction over time is lacking. A multi-decade analysis reveals a steady increase in the cost of local government services and levels of taxation, with corresponding high performance and citizen satisfaction over time. In light of these findings, recommendations to improve cost-effectiveness, service delivery, and citizen satisfaction include: regular audits of the City’s performance measurement system to ensure the metrics tracked remain relevant to the challenges; better coordination of taxes and expenditures among local government entities to minimize the tax impact on residents; greater consideration of less costly alternative municipal service delivery systems; and concerted efforts to engage residents in the budget and service delivery decisions.

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