Democrat ballot propositions

March 1, 2020

The democrat ballot in the March 3, 2020 primary election contains 11 non-binding propositions.

You can read them here.

The propositions are on the ballot after the elected positions.

We deserve better

Brutus


Republican ballot propositions

February 28, 2020

The republican ballot in the March 3, 2020 primary election contains 9 non-binding propositions.

You can read them here

The propositions are on the ballot after the elected positions.

We deserve better

Brutus


They are getting more sophisticated

February 21, 2020

Let’s hand it to the city for figuring out another way to scam the taxpayers.

The way property taxes work in Texas requires the city to figure out how much money they raised in property taxes last year.

They they look at what the same properties are appraised at this year and must tell us the tax rate that will bring in the same amount of money.  This is called the effective tax rate.  If property values go down they can raise their effective tax rate thus bringing in the same amount of money as last year.  If property values go up they must lower their effective tax rate.  New properties are not part of the equation.

From there if they want to raise more money they are now capped at an increase to the effective tax rate of no more than 2.5%.  If they want to go over 2.5% the voters must be given an opportunity to vote on the issue.

Simple huh?

Well this year as it turns out our central appraisal district folks took a conservative view on commercial property values.  They subtracted 3.3% from what they thought commercial properties were worth just in case the commercial property owners decided to fight their valuations.

This is nothing new, they do it every year.

What was new was the 3.3%.  Normally they take a 1.8% reduction on average.  The net effect according to the city’s own chart was that the city set their tax rate using the 3.3% decrease instead of the 1.8% norm.

The actual calculation requires a little bit of algebra so I will just use the city’s chief financial officer’s numbers.  He said in a city council meeting recently that the result was $10 million of additional revenue to the city.  He then said “we’re over collecting on property taxes”.  The city manager then stepped in and said that they were not really over collecting they were just collecting based upon what the central appraisal district came up with.

The city chief financial officer told city council that city staff did not agree with the evaluation but they used it anyway.

That was really convenient for them.

In reality the city knew that the historical value was 1.8% but used the 3.3% number without taking it back to the central appraisal district for a better understanding.

If they claim that they did not know then they are saying that they are incompetent.

We deserve better

Brutus

 


Texas house seat for sale?

February 19, 2020

Mr. Grossman tipped us off to this chart on transparencytexas.org:

Notice how little of the money raised came from within district 76.

I can only conclude that outsiders are trying to buy a vote.

We deserve better

Brutus


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


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