Wylie is Rolling in Dough

At the last Wylie City Council meeting, City Manager Mindy Manson showed council a preliminary budget during the work session. The chart they used this year shows the tax rate making a steep drop over the past five years. Interesting.

Mayor Eric Hogue and a few council members love to toss around the false narrative that they are reducing our taxes and this chart is a great representation of that. Or is it?

Though the city may have reduced the tax rate, the highest in all of Collin County I might add, this chart and the false narrative only perpetuate a mass misconception. It is easy to pass this chart around because they know that taxpayers get confused about how their taxes work.

When the city council tells you they lowered your taxes, they mean they lowered your tax rate. From the chart above, they only lowered it five cents between 2012 and 2017.  The city representatives love to show this chart, because it makes them feel like heroes for making you think your taxes are taking a nosedive. Except they aren't.

Now let's compare the Wylie City estimated taxes from 2012 through 2017 using an average-priced home as our basis. More to the point, using my home.

This is the reality of that alleged tax reduction that Mayor Hogue and council members like to pretend they gave you. These numbers are the estimated taxes that came directly from my notices of appraised value from 2012 through 2017. Does this look like a tax reduction to you? Obviously it's not.

The taxes paid to Wylie continually increase because the city council refuses to adopt the effective tax rate each year. Instead, they opt to take more money from taxpayers, and pretend they are giving you a tax break by lowering the rate slightly. Certainly not enough to offset the massive increase.

Now some people try to blame the Collin County Central Appraisal District for their increasing taxes. Except, this entity only sets your home's appraisal value. Mostly they pull the number out of their behinds, but for the most part, the appraisals have pretty much been lower than what I could have sold my home for each year. The fact is, scarcity, among other things, has caused home values to increase dramatically over the past couple years and is expected to again in the coming year.

That said, each year, the appraisal district announces the effective tax rate, which is supposed to be adopted by city council to help offset the tax burden on homeowners. The effective tax rate helps keep your payment out the door generally the same as the previous year. Clearly, that is not what Wylie has been doing. Instead they have been taking your money and touting a fake tax reduction.

Now lets take a look at the difference between our current tax rate of .8489 and if Wylie were to lower our taxes by ten cents to .7489 this year. That 2017 payment of $1944.28  on my home, would be reduced to $1715.24, essentially rolling back to their 2015 budget. They could certainly live within those means, considering how much money they took in between 2012 and 2015, plus all the new property tax revenue on the anticipated 350 new homes as well as new businesses opening this year.

Now tell me again how Wylie isn't rolling in the dough?

Photo credit: Bazinga.com

Wylie Sister Entities - One is Not Like the Other

Guess what showed up in The Wylie News last Wednesday? Front cover, above the fold even. An article about how concerned citizens would be protesting the Wylie ISD board meeting last Monday, just like they protested at the city council meeting a couple weeks ago.

Except, they weren't. For anyone following the We the People Facebook page, or even Nextdoor, there was no discussion of a Wylie ISD protest. Still, the notice was worth sharing on social media to see just how many people are concerned about the school taxes. Precisely two people showed up.

So exactly how did this article make it into the paper then? As I've mentioned before, the newspaper often prints articles at the behest of Mayor Eric Hogue. They are, after all, the "official city newspaper of Wylie", a title bestowed upon them by a council vote each year.

So think back to the city council meeting last week. At the end of the budget work session, Mayor Hogue was sure to mention that people need to protest the other three taxing entities: Collin College, Collin County and Wylie ISD. Conveniently, the next day the newspaper article hit the newsstand.

So if Collin College and Collin County have been routinely lowering their tax rates to citizens, what entity do you think Mayor Hogue was referring to? That's right, Wylie ISD. There's nothing quite like your mayor playing adversary against the school district.

Now think back to The Wylie News article mentioned above. If there had been zero discussion among protesters about attending the Wylie ISD meeting, why, then, did the newspaper publish this article saying there was?

I suppose the newspaper might have attempted to insinuate a protest, but that does not represent journalistic integrity, making it highly doubtful that the newspaper just made up this story. For this story to go to print, they would have been approached by someone feeding them information; or misinformation as it were. I wonder, who would gain from taking some of the tax heat off of the city and placing it on the school district? Obviously, a rhetorical question.

What came out of this faux Wylie ISD protest is the ability to show people the difference between a Board of Education that behaves as a partner with citizens and which sits quietly and thoughtfully through public comment, versus an unruly and unprofessional Wylie City Council, that seems confounded as to the definition of "public comment" and how to behave through it. Here is an assessment of my last two meeting experiences, as I watched how other citizens were treated by both entities.

From the moment citizens walk into a city council meeting, they may be stared down or just plain ignored, unless they seek to approach someone. Certainly, our mayor is not working the crowd in the entryway or welcoming citizens into the chamber. When you walk in, it is reverent, like a courtroom. When you speak to council during a work sessions, some sit with their fist propping up their head in what appears to be boredom, some attempt to shut you down while you are talking, sometimes they invite staff to do a mic grab and they even debate your point of view.

Contrast that starkly with Wylie ISD. Once a citizen enters, they are hard pressed to avoid a practical bear-hug from Superintendent Dr. David Vinson, If he doesn't go in for the hug, he is happy to chat with everyone and make them feel welcome. There are smiles all around and some of the other board members also work the crowd, as do staff. Everyone there does their best to make citizens feel welcomed. When you walk in, it feels warm and lively. When you speak to the board, they actively listen. At this particular board meeting, when the citizens finished speaking, one board member gave heart-felt encouragement to concerned citizens.

Notice if you will, the difference in how the public is treated by these sister entities:

Wylie City Council Work Session http://wylietx.swagit.com/play/06132017-1265

Wylie ISD Meeting (video to be updated once Wylie ISD publishes it to their website).

Turns out the crap bomb that Mayor Hogue had intended to spatter on Wylie ISD, when he suggested taxpayers should protest the other taxing entities, instead exploded on him. So not only does Hogue's mayoral legacy include increasing taxes over the past four years, soon to be five, but it also includes his inhospitable council meetings. He does, after all, lead by example.

Many sisters get along very well, but every now and then there's that petty family member that tries to cause trouble. It's too bad, too, because the Wylie ISD trustees show us how easy it is to have grace and compassion for those who are affected by their decisions. I have never witnessed this at a council meeting.

Image credit: White Christmas

Wylie Council Admonishes a Concerned Citizen During Public Comment

Shame on Councilman Jeff Forrester, Councilwoman Diane Culver, Mayor Pro Tem Keith Stephens and Mayor Eric Hogue for admonishing this concerned citizen over his questions about staff and PD headcount. 

This poor man didn't even get to finish his statements before it quickly became the council show. Forrester led a several minute admonishment, followed by Culver who went on a several minute diatribe, followed by Hogue who drafted the Chief of Police to step in. 

The man's concerns turned into stern admonishment for an extended period of time, as he stepped to the side and waited to get the floor again. And our smug Mayor looked on. 

This image beautifully portrays what happened during public comment of the council budget work session tonight. When it was over, for council to welcome this man back to meetings doesn't erase the ill-mannered behavior that was displayed by the majority. 

Very disrespectful!