Gotcha

October 27, 2019

In a special city council meeting Monday, October 28, 2019 they will be changing the water park deal.

They do these things in special city council meetings to avoid exposure to the citizens.

They first plan to cancel the earlier agreement with Great Wolf.

Why?  Probably because their plan to give Great Wolf 100% of the sales taxes collected near the water park was going to run into trouble because the water park was not really a convention center.

Now it is

Our Texas legislature passed house bill 4347 in their last session.

One of the things the bill did was to qualify facilities that have at least 4,000 square feet of meeting space as a convention center.

In the agreement being cancelled the city promised to give the developer up to $40 million if Texas decided that our facility did not qualify as a convention center and thus would not be able to get the sales taxes collected from facilities around the water park.

Now that the water park and its adjoining meeting room will qualify the city is off the hook.

We however are not so lucky.

The sales tax money from stores near the water park would normally go into our general fund.

Now they will be used to fund the privately owned water park.

We deserve better

Brutus


State constitutional proposals

October 22, 2019

The state has some questions on the ballot.  They are all proposed constitutional amendments.

  1. The constitutional amendment permitting a person to hold more than one office as a municipal judge at the same time.
  2. The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development
    Board in an amount not to exceed $200 million to provide financial assistance for the development of certain projects in economically
    distressed areas.
  3. The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for a temporary exemption from ad valorem taxation of a portion
    of the appraised value of certain property damaged by a disaster.
  4. The constitutional amendment prohibiting the imposition of an individual income tax, including a tax on an individual’s share of
    partnership and unincorporated association income.
  5. The constitutional amendment dedicating the revenue received from the existing state sales and use taxes that are imposed on
    sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission to protect Texas’ natural areas,
    water quality, and history by acquiring, managing, and improving state and local parks and historic sites while not increasing the
    rate of the state sales and use taxes.
  6. The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to increase by $3 billion the maximum bond amount authorized for
    the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
  7. The constitutional amendment allowing increased distributions to the available school fund.
  8. The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the flood infrastructure fund to assist in the financing of drainage,
    flood mitigation, and flood control projects.
  9. The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation precious metal held in a precious metal
    depository located in this state.
  10. The constitutional amendment to allow the transfer of a law enforcement animal to a qualified caretaker in certain circumstances

Number 3 strikes me as unnecessary. If property is damaged (whether by a disaster or any other way) its appraised value should decrease because it is worth less.

It would have been nice if our local news media had done a better job informing us of what the issues are behind each of the proposals.

The Times evidently did run an article but they only deliver my newspaper about 60% of the time.

We deserve better

Brutus


Not doing her job

September 4, 2019

At the August 6, 2019 meeting of city council our city attorney spoke about ethics training as well as council members having a better understanding of Roberts Rules of Order.

Then astoundingly she indicated that having a more robust understanding of Roberts Rules would help even her.

Doing her job

Unfortunately this council as well as past councils has appointed the city attorney to also be the city parliamentarian.  This job should be done by someone who is not dependent upon the good will of city council.

She should know the rules backwards and forwards.  She should see to it that council meetings are conducted using those rules since council has voted to use them.

The job of city parliamentarian has been assigned to her.  She should have learned the rules before the very next council meeting.

While we’re at it

She should also see to it that council takes no action that is illegal.  She should be completely familiar with the Texas Open Meetings Act and see to it that the act is obeyed.

Further

She should also see to it that the rules about providing backup material when items are placed on the agenda.  Too often presentations are made at council meetings without them having been made available for viewing by the public 72 hours before a meeting.

If she doesn’t have time to handle these things she might assign one of her ample staff to do them for her.

Otherwise she should resign as parliamentarian.

We deserve better

Brutus


Historic designation not voluntary

September 3, 2019

This slide came from a presentation to city council:

It appears that other people can collectively vote to take your property.

We deserve better

Brutus


EPISD lowering its property tax rate

August 21, 2019

Take a look at this:

The chart shows EPISD’s property tax rates for last year along with the rate they are considering for next year.

The end result is that they are considering lowering the combined tax rate from $1.31 per hundred dollars of property valuation to $1.2684 per hundred.

They are lowering the operations and maintenance rate while increasing the interest and sinking fund rate.  Remember that we allowed them to take ten cents away from the interest and sinking fund rate and add it to the operations and maintenance rate.  The effect of the change was to increase the amount that the state gives the district.

That is the other part of the news.  You can see that last year the state gave the district $5,554 per student while next year they are projecting $6,686 from the state.

This is better

Brutus


Ignoring the law

August 13, 2019

The Tuesday, August 13, 2019 city council agenda includes an executive session item (closed meeting) captioned as:

“Briefing from counsel on legal guidelines for communicating with citizens about a bond election”

Why the secrets?

What could the city attorney be telling city council in private that members of the public should not know about?  Is the plan to teach council how to lie to us or otherwise deceive us?  Could it be that the city attorney is going to tell them not to make false promises?

The Texas Open Meetings Act allows council to go into closed session for the following reasons:

  • certain specific personnel matters
  • discussions about the value or transfer of real property
  • discussions about security personnel, security services, or a security audit
  • discussions about a prospective gift or donation to a governmental body
  • discussions about potential items on tests conducted relating to licensing of individuals to engage in an activity
  • discussions of certain economic development matters
  • discussions of certain competitive matters is the city owns an electric or gas utility
  • issues relating to emergencies and disasters

Schooling the council about bond elections is not in the list.

However

Certain consultations with the city attorney are allowed.

Which ones?

Take a look at this:

It looks like the proposed closed session will not be legal.

Shouldn’t the city attorney know the laws and follow them?

We deserve better

Brutus


Simple way to resolve the arena issue

July 17, 2019

The city does not have to go through with building the multipurpose performing arts and entertainment center (commonly referred to as the arena).

In The bond election can be revoked we pointed out a state law that allows the voters the option of cancelling the authority to issue previously approved bonds.

Shouldn’t city council put the issue to a test?

If enough voters decide to revoke the bonds then the center cannot be built unless another election occurs where the voters approve it.

If there are not enough votes to revoke the bonds then the voters would have spoken and the city should build the center.

Sounds simple enough

We would also avoid the mounting costs of litigation.

The statute is found in chapter 1252 of the Texas Government Code.

Contact your city representative and ask them to vote to call the election.  You should also ask the mayor.

We deserve better

Brutus


%d bloggers like this: