SXSW–do we get anything by being there?

January 18, 2018

We learned the other day that county commissioners and city council have agreed to each spend $50,000 of our money to send a delegation to South by Southwest.

The wikipedia article about South by Southwest reads:

South by Southwest (abbreviated as SXSW and colloquially referred to as South By) is an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences that take place in mid-March in Austin, Texas, United States. It began in 1987, and has continued to grow in both scope and size every year. In 2017, the conference lasted for 10 days with SXSW interactive lasting for five days, music for seven days and film running concurrently for nine days. Comedy and gaming components to the festival are particularly fast-growing.

The city and the county evidently feel that our attendance will be good for the community.  Maybe it will.

The city and county attended last year.


Did our community get any positive benefit from their attendance last year or is this really an opportunity for our employees to have a party?

We deserve better


Children’s hospital fate being discussed

January 16, 2018

There has been considerable speculation about the financial fate of our children’s hospital lately.

At the November 14, 2017 meeting of the county hospital’s board of managers there was supposed to be a financial report from the new children’s hospital chief executive officer.

The presentation was postponed to the December board meeting in order to give the new chief executive officer time before having to make the report.

The video of the December 12, 2017 board meeting is not available on the county hospital’s web site.  The November and January videos are however.

Is this an oversight or are they trying to avoid making the children’s hospital financial situation known to the public?

Our former county judge is campaigning to become our local congressional representative.  She was one of the main champions of the bond issue that build the children’s hospital.  Is she being protected on this?

We deserve better


Sales tax rules

January 14, 2018

This comes from the Texas legislative council web page:

The sales and use tax (referred to herein as “sales tax”) imposed on most taxable goods and
services consists of a state sales and use tax and a local sales and use tax. The state sales tax rate is
6.25 percent of the sales price of taxable goods and services, and this rate is uniformly applied to
taxable retail transactions throughout the state. Local jurisdictions, including cities, counties, and
some special districts, may also impose a local sales tax after voter approval, but the sum of all local
sales taxes may not exceed two percent anywhere in the state. The maximum sales tax paid on a
taxable item anywhere in Texas is 8.25 percent.

The imposition of a local sales tax must be approved by the voters residing in the jurisdiction in
which the sales tax is to be imposed. Local sales tax revenues can be used for a variety of purposes,
including general fund purposes, property tax relief, health care for the indigent, crime control,
economic development, support of public libraries, emergency services, street maintenance, and
support of public transit. Because of the variety in local sales tax options, not all Texans pay an 8.25
percent sales tax. Some might pay only a 6.75 percent rate; others might pay a 7.75 or 8.0 percent
sales tax rate, depending on where they purchase a taxable item. This variation reflects the different
kinds of services and levels of services approved by the voters to be funded by local sales taxes.
Cities may levy a local sales tax of up to two percent; counties, up to two percent; transit
authorities, up to one percent; and special districts, up to two percent. State law governs the order in
which these taxes take effect, so as not to exceed the two percent cap on the sum of all local sales
taxes at any location in the state.

In our case 1.5% goes to the city general fund and .5% goes to Sun Metro.

We deserve better


County goes dark

December 22, 2017

The county used to post agendas and backup material for their commissioners court meetings.

Looking for something on November 27, 2017 this is what their web page produced:

They will let you look at recent purchasing board meetings, but regular meetings of the commissioners court are only available up to October of 2013.  That means that we cannot see what they have done for the last four years.

Current agendas and backup materials are not available.

Is this an accident or is it a deliberate attempt to limit our access to information?  Are they doing this to make it harder to understand what our former county judge did?

We deserve better


Back in the district attorney’s court

November 28, 2017

Two of our community bloggers have been trading pot shots about various things including the apparent open meetings violations committed by a current and former members of city council.  See Texas Rangers.

Now according to the Lionstar blog:

Well that allegedly fake investigation by the Texas Rangers was concluded and turned over to the District Attorneys Office.

Now it is up to our district attorney.

One can argue that the DA  was right to stay out of the school prosecutions since they were being handled at the federal level.

This issue however is clearly a local one.  The public deserves prompt action from the district attorney.  He should either prosecute the case or let us know why he will not.

We deserve better


Children’s hospital continues to lose money

November 27, 2017

We now have further evidence that the group that promised us that the children’s hospital would not cost taxpayers any money were wrong.

Our former county judge was a leader of this group.  Now it appears that she wants to run for our United States congress.

The children’s hospital continues to lose money.

For the three months ended June, 2017 they lost another $3.6 million.  If that continues the annual loss would be $14.4 million.

The children’s hospital does have a new chief executive officer.

We can only hope that she can lessen the losses.

We deserve better




Putting the squeeze on local governments

November 16, 2017

It seems that congress is considering eliminating the personal income tax deductions for state and local taxes.

That would cause citizen involvement to lower local taxes.

Maybe that is a good idea.

We deserve better


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