Monday, September 18, 2023

Austin Joins “Putting Assets To Work” Program To Identify Under-Utilized Public Property


Following a successful pilot program last year, the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) announced today it’s welcoming four new cities from across the United States – including Austin - into the second class of the GFOA’s innovative “Putting Assets to Work” (PAW) initiative.
“PAW is about helping local leaders uncover the real and significant value that may be hiding in plain sight,” says Ben McAdams, the former U.S. Congressman and GFOA Fellow who is leading the project. “Every local government holds immense amounts of property, structures, and other assets that they may not know how to fully utilize, or in some cases, may not even realize they own. PAW is a process where we help them understand exactly what they have, what it’s worth, and how that value can be leveraged for any number of local priorities.”
The concept, also known as an “urban wealth fund,” places these assets under professional management with clear oversight from local city government. In recent years, some local governments in North America have begun to explore urban wealth funds as a transparent and innovative method for complementing local revenues without raising taxes.
Cities that were included in the first cohort of PAW, which launched in Summer 2022, are already beginning to realize new revenues and other community benefits, including affordable housing, clean energy, infrastructure, criminal justice innovations, and other high priorities.
“We’re excited to join the growing network of cities participating in this innovative program,” said Ed Van Eenoo, Chief Financial Officer for the City of Austin. “While we expect to learn a lot through this process, one thing we already know is that Austin residents deserve a high level of service from their local government, delivered in the most fiscally responsible way possible.”

Austin’s involvement in PAW will last approximately six months. The PAW initiative is supported by Urban3 and Common Ground Institute.
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