Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wylie Budget Talks Baffling


I am a tad bit annoyed at what I saw in last evening’s Wylie City Council budget work session. Astonishingly, our Mayor exclaimed on behalf of the City that they don't sit on money, but they are doing exactly that with $200K.  No, really.  When you have to make a straw man argument like that, you just committed a major whoopsie.

There are precisely 4 open PD slots, and the department is asking for 4 more, for a total of 8. That's right.  In fact, it will admittedly take them one year to hire someone and get them trained to hit the street, and they have 4 slots open that they are having trouble filling. I bet their chances of filling those 4 slots in a year is pretty darned slim too.  But hey, they want your $200K sitting in the budget, just in case they get an eight man run on coppers who are jonesing to place their lives at risk to work for the City of Wylie. Seriously, I bet former Councilman Bennie Jones is for hire. 

When the budget first rolled around, PD only wanted 2 officers. Suddenly that number has doubled, but it really shouldn't be any surprise why.   Every month we read about the increase in sales tax revenue in the local newspaper.  For the past three years we’ve witnessed our property taxes increasing dramatically. This budget year, it's no surprise that every week we read about the spending bonanza all the departments appear to be on. Yup, your hard earned tax dollars are a golden cash cow again, and some of the departments appear to want to milk that teat pretty hard.  

Revenue is up, make no mistake about it, so why Councilman William Whitney got a group smack down for suggesting they provide tax payers with a little more tax break than the one cent proposed is a mystery.  Yup, Whitney had the audacity to ask them to consider tossing 2 cents at us. BOOM! Then the rest closed ranks while Mayor felt the need to inform Whitney that they still appreciate him (insert massive rolley-eyeball smiley here). Ya, I believe that.  I'm  pretty sure they appreciate him about as much as they have appreciated me over the years.

On discussion about the plethora of departmental spending requests, Wylie City Manager Mindy Manson stated that our tax revenue boon, “gives us the amount to fund quite a bit and reduce the tax rate.” I mean seriously, does anyone truly believe a 2 cent decrease is going to kill the budget, what with all the tax revenue and property tax rolling in? What about a 1.5 cent decrease then?  Or even 1.25 cent decrease?  Nopers.  There was not going to be any direction given to staff to come up with an additional tax reduction.  Mayor was having none of that.

To add insult to injury, Mayor tosses out the 92 cents we could actually increase to, voted in by the citizens when home values were a whopping $100-150K.  It's the little blackmail torch that can be pulled out and whipped around to shut down any further discussion. I don't know why he always goes there because there is not one citizen that is going to tolerate that 92 cent crap, not after what we've been through since the 2008 election.  People are on to our elected citizens like flies to pig poo.

It was no surprise Councilwoman Diane Culver has a hard-on for the PD and went to bat for the $200K idle funds.  Sounds smart to leave it sitting there doing nothing in the off chance of hiring 8 officers and needing the funding available, just in case.  

Hey, I love our PD as much as anyone else, but 8 open slots is a tad ridiculous.  It takes a year of training before they can even hit the street.  So think about this, if they hired all 4 open slots this year, they still wouldn't be ready to use the funds for another 4 popo. It's money sitting there, committed and unused. That's dumb and quite frankly, baffling.

Then there is that superficial threat tossed around annually that we are going to be tapped out. Wylie has been threatened to be built-out for the last 4 budget years, but that hasn't happened.  Also admittedly, Mayor stated the acreage sitting near the new Walmart is going to be developed for additional industrial which would bring more tax revenue. 

Wylie is not going to be tapped out anytime soon and our home values are going to continue to increase for quite a while. There are plenty of people sitting on property that is not for sale, but will be when they can make millions off it.  Additionally, the City will probably begin annexing their ETJ property over time.  I mean, why wouldn't they with the growth popularity of Wylie, and especially after the toll road fiasco, when there were plenty of homeowners who would have happily handed over property tax revenue to the City of Wylie just to garner some protection.   

You want to see home values increase like a son of a gun?  You want to see new homes snapped up and force an even greater increase in our home values?  Cut our tax rate so it really means something. Split the diff, add the 2 headcount to PD, and toss us another half or quarter cent. Sheesh, do I have to do all the thinking for 6 of them sitting at the dais last night?  

Evidently Wylie City Council has jumped back on the spending spree because they think nobody is watching.   But they would be wrong.