Official Runoff Election Endorsement of Mike McCandless

Justice of the Peace, Precinct No. 2Mike McCandless


After careful consideration and further research, I've decided to endorse Mike McCandless for JP, Pct 2 in the GOP Runoff Election. Here's why:

Initially, I fell for his opponent's hollow stunts, but since then I have heard several unsavory things about Jerry Shaffer's campaign.

Shaffer appears to be more old establishment, having sidled up to Mayor Eric Hogue - Wylie's good old boy establishment. What's worse, he has told voters he is running against a Democrat - an outright twisting of the truth. This JP runoff selection is for the GOP and the winner will not meet the Democrat until November.

I also did not like that Shaffer campaigns in the most inappropriate venues, including a candlelight vigil for officers. At every turn in Wylie, Shaffer has used it as a photo-op. This leaves me wonder if he is simply more interested in holding the seat, or in the people. Sounds eerily similar to Mayor Hogue and his ridiculous horse and pony show tactics. In fact, on Shaffer's endorsement page, he shows images of himself at six Wylie events out of 13 endorsements. For a seat that covers a lot more communities than Wylie, that should make people very wary, especially to focus so much on a community that is not exactly known for a massive voter turnout.

After doing more research, I see that Mike McCandless has experience working under several justices through the years, he has many years of law enforcement experience including serving as a Collin County deputy constable. I feel this makes him a more well-rounded candidate for a JP position. Finally, Collin County Conservative Republicans has endorsed McCandless.

Early Voting Schedule

Smith Public Library
May 14 - May 18
7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Election Day

May 22
7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Runoff elections are notorious for low voter turnout. Please consider getting out there to vote so that your voice is heard.


High-Density Complexes: A Liberal Dream

People all over the metroplex have been complaining about the abundance of high-density apartments.

We bear witness to this every time one of those ugly, boxy apartment buildings takes over what used to be commercial real estate. With a quick nod and zoning change, developers plug in cheap construction that strongly resembles Russian government housing. The similarities are disappointing.

These ugly apartments are a developer's dream, too. Not only do they get a group of easily swayed city council members to approve the necessary zoning changes, but they also get the local economic development corporations (EDC) to offer abatements and special deals. The developers keep coming, and the council often capitulates to their demands.

In Wylie, we recently watched our city council hand a developer $750K in taxpayer money to build apartments after they cleanup the landfill on a prime piece of real estate at Westgate and 78. The dumb thing is, it would have cost the city less than $500K to clean it, which would have made it more enticing for a sizable commercial real estate complex.

This illogical decision was made by council, claiming the developer swears they will build retail and office space in phase two. Except there is no guarantee tied to our taxpayer money, so the developer can pretty much do as he pleases, including slapping in more apartments. But our council claimed this was the best possible use for this prime piece of real estate at Westgate and 78. I'm not seeing it. As elected fiduciaries of our tax dollars, this doesn't strike me as a very sound deal.

For the people, these slapped together apartments are a nightmare. They're ugly, of substandard quality, they increase traffic and bring higher crime rates. On top of that, they overcrowd and burden the school district at a time when city officials are stabbing them in the back for not lowering their tax rate.

The mayor of Wylie perpetually points his finger at the school district for high taxes, yet continually makes illogical decisions. For an entity that should be getting along swimmingly with our school district, they don't seem to be very good stewards of The Wylie Way.

Developers love these apartment buildings because they are cheap, cheap, cheap to build. Sure, the people might be happy with their 600 square foot efficiency apartment with granite counter tops, but they are still slapped together. Why do you think this particular boxy style can be seen all over the metroplex? Developers also love them because they know that most city council members are not smart enough to understand the full implications when they approve them.

Liberals love these apartment buildings because they support the United Nations Agenda 21 Sustainable Development initiative that is working to move people off their lands and into vast "sustainable" complexes. Don't believe me? Check out Agenda 21 yourself.

To accomplish Agenda 21 goals means pushing landowners off their lands by making them too expensive and difficult to own through increased property values, burdensome restrictions on use and increased taxation. To aid in this, they are making your commute outrageously expensive by controlling the price of oil and by tolling the bejeezus out of you.

Where once you used to drive on "free" ways like 75 and 635, they are slowly taking them over with tolled lanes. It's only a matter of time before you'll have to pay to drive to work on every freeway in the city, thereby aiding in and further concentrating people into vast high-density complexes to reduce city sprawl. They hope you'll eventually abandon your property so you don't have to endure the tiresome and expensive commute and the outrageous taxes. They know you want to save money and the convenience of living in the city.

This is why the Agenda 21 liberals that make up the North Texas Council of Governments (NTCOG) has been ferociously pushing for freeways through Wylie. Do you really think they will be free once they are built? And once the apartments fill the landscape, DART will be next, running buses throughout already busy streets jammed with trucks, thanks to the intermodal facility that Mayor Hogue desperately wanted to build here. Tell me you don't see this in action all around you.

Indeed, these high-density apartment complexes are a liberal's dream. And we had better be very careful about allowing them to change the landscape, meaning, look and feel of Wylie.

Welcome to Taxes


Now that the city council election is over, the city will be moving on to budget season. Within a few short weeks we'll be seeing a preliminary PowerPoint presentation showing what they insist on spending.

The Song and Dance Routine

The city manager is quoted in the newspaper as saying, "growth doesn't necessarily pay for growth" when they have to provide services to new homeowners. That's an outright lie. New growth in Wylie more than pays for itself through increasing property values and taxes from new homes and businesses built that year.

Bringing on 350 new homes each year, for example, does not cost tens of millions of dollars in services, nor warrant increased taxes of tens of millions of dollars. Let's do the math:

Hypothetically, if each new home pays $4,000 a year in city taxes, 350 new homes would pay $1,400,000 to Wylie. And since we know the city is on a perpetual spending spree, not all of that tax money pays for services. In fact, I would venture to guess that services for each home in Wylie costs more like $1,800-$2,000 per home.

Despite lowering the tax rate nearly .07 cents last year, the city still seems to have plenty of money available to not only repair the Public Services building, but to dramatically improve it. They seem to have the money available to buy the chief of police and Lieutenant new vehicles (something they swore they couldn't afford this time last year if they lowered the tax rate more than 2 cents). They seem to have the money available to change employee titles in order to pay them more.

By lowering the tax rate and still hitting the spending mark they had hoped for in the last budget, the city didn't go bankrupt. The city didn't go bust. They seemed to have the money to lower our tax rate by .07 cents and still get all the things on their list of wants, plus some in the end.

Every year during the preliminary budget review we are shown a kabuki routine of why the city expenses far outweigh the tax revenue coming in.We are shown a doom and gloom assessment, not based upon the CAFR, but based upon worst case scenario. Then the city manager works backwards from there. Each subsequent budget meeting looks better and better such that council members are grateful for all that "work" done by the finance department. But in the end, all of their desired spending is actually built into the budget. Believe me, they are taking care of themselves better than your employer takes care of you.

Break Even Value

The last time I checked, about three years ago, the break-even value for a home in Wylie was roughly $260K. This means that a home valued at $260K or more pays in more money than the cost of services to that home - at $260K, that would be roughly $1,800 in taxes.

Homes worth less than $260K cost the city money in services. I don't know what the break even is for homes this year, but I would venture to guess that adjusted for inflation, it shouldn't be more than $285K.

So let's revisit our math problem above. If we take our calculated tax payment of $4,000 per home, at at total of $1.4 million for those 350 new homes, it does not justify the city taking in an additional $179 million for new property. According to a Wylie News report on "new property" values, the current estimated appraisal values in Wylie  means the new homes will bring in $179 million additional revenue. By the way, if you aren't subscribed to the Wylie News you should be because they do a fantastic job of reporting on our taxes throughout the year.

So what happens with all that excess tax money? Especially since every home built for the past several years is worth more than the break even, and a lot of the existing homes are valued over that as well? A lot of angry voters are trying to figure that out.

Effective Tax Rate

By now, everyone in Wylie has been educated about their taxes. They know that when a city does not adopt the effective tax rate, they are giving taxpayers a tax increase. The effective tax rate essentially keeps the amount of money you pay to the taxing entity the same as the previous year.

Again, applying our math problem above, the city takes in the additional revenue to cover those 350 new homes and you can see how new growth pays for new growth.

Wylie's taxpayers know that taxes have a double-prong effect: assessments which can be protested, and the tax rate our taxing entities adopt each year, which can also be protested. They know that taxes are a racket.

Protesting

Last year, I protested my taxes, and the Fair Market Value (FMV) was lowered by $9K. The assessed value I paid taxes on did not decrease. This year, I protested and they dropped the FMV by nearly $7K. They aren't lowering my appraised value, so I'm still paying the same amount in taxes that I would have prior to protesting. Granted, I don't totally get how all this stuff works, but according to those companies happy to charge me a fee to protest taxes for me, they claim I should start saving money in year three.

I fail to see how that will happen in Collin County, especially when property assessments are out of control. I'm not paying taxes based upon my FMV, and that number is most certainly not coming down to halt my appraised value from climbing the 10% each year. Collin County appraisers and taxing entities are making sure of it. But how?

What's Really Going On

Wylie has adopted the same mindset of every community within Collin County. That "mindset" is to price out those they consider the "riff-raff". By building nothing but four-story apartment buildings instead of new homes, those who are desperate to own homes are forced into bidding wars, driving sales prices up. We've seen this all around Collin County.

Those who can afford the taxes are buying up property vacated by those who cannot afford it. Those who cannot afford it are being pushed into high-density apartments that rival government housing in design, cheap material and appeal. Or they are being pushed out of Collin County altogether.

Through scarcity, the appraisal district is happily doling out the maximum 10% increase in assessment value each year, and the cities are raking in the extra dough. As long as the cities can maintain a certain level of scarcity in homes, they can artificially fuel increases in home values.

The cities are happy to keep approving high-density apartments and we've watched them go up all over the county. There has been a lot of push back in Plano about this over the past couple of years.

With high-density developments, there are more people spending money around town, but less people to fight the property tax rate because they are relatively buffered by it. Who cares if the complex footprint doesn't pay as much money into the city, the homeowners will cover it.

Meanwhile, apartment prices climb because higher prices can be commanded from those who don't have the funds to pay big mortgages and high taxes. Plus, there are always those moving in from states that have even higher home values, so someone is always waiting in the wings, ready to pay.

The lower income folks, well, they get to move somewhere else that isn't the elitist Collin County. Certainly we want our home values high, with measured growth that meets our income growth, but we did not expect to be priced out of our own homes by leaps and bounds. Which is what is happening as every city in the county stands by, waiting with open arms to welcome those who don't mind paying the higher taxes for homes that cost considerably less than they owned in the Northeast or West Coast.

For people like me, we have no problem paying the bills. Our home is nearly paid off, we have two grown sons and a healthy income. But for people who have young children and not as much equity built in their homes, the cost of daycare and raising children means many of them are struggling when their mortgage payment increases $300 a month because their taxes went up and they are required to have a certain buffer in their escrow accounts each year.

What's more concerning is that all this has happened in a five-year span. My appraised value has increased over $100K in five years but I guarantee the break even value for Wylie homes hasn't. So revisiting that math problem one last time. If I'm paying taxes on $100K more in property values, just how much has the city been raking in over the past five years? I'll leave you to it.

Though the home values may settle in according to some housing market reports, the damage is done. If you want to own a home in Collin County, you're going to have to pay a lot for your home and a lot in taxes unless you begin fighting back. In Wylie, that's just what we've been doing.