“Austin’s Big Spender”
September 26, 2017
A KXAN Investigation uncovered questionable spending within Austin’s convention and visitor’s bureau. Our team analyzed two years of Visit Austin’s budgets, revealing a half million dollars in purchases of gourmet meals, high-price alcohol and out-of-state concerts. While the group initially insisted payments came from private fundraising, it later admitted that money was actually public tax dollars, after we discovered the truth by obtaining copies of the actual receipts.
We also discovered city leaders were unaware of this spending, as an annual $15-million budget went unchecked year after year – money that could be going to other services that could benefit people living in Austin in other ways. We pressed the city council to watch our reports and gave them copies of our findings.
During the very next council meeting after the initial investigation, members took up the issue and delayed Visit Austin’s budget approval, calling for a city audit and thanking KXAN for drawing it to their attention. Leaders also vowed to more closely scrutinize those numbers in the future, and Visit Austin promised public tax dollars would no longer pay for those types of expenses.
Submitted by Josh Hinkle.