The Book of Wylie

When the book of Wylie was written years ago, I wonder if anyone had the foresight to think about how Wylieites would pay for all of the services that would be desired and would surely come.  I decided it might just be time to put fingers to keyboard on this topic yet again.

Using the last number I received from a council member, if the break-even point to the city is $211,245 per house, I wonder just how many of the roughly 13K homes are actually hitting that mark?  I mean, have you looked around?  Have you checked out the home values on Collin CAD?  My 2011 $1463.36 to the City of Wylie out of a total tax bill of $4398.85 is a mere drop in the bucket, yet I truly don’t care to pay more.  To be honest, I’m sick to death of being squeezed for money like the last drop of water is being squeezed out of Lake Lavon.  It’s time to reduce the burden on taxpayers.  But can they? 

What is even bleaker is that the $211,245 number doesn’t even take into consideration the debt?!?  Would we were to take every fund and the debt and run the calculations; the break even home value is probably closer to that original $250K mark or even more (this number is not set in stone, I have asked someone what it is and am waiting for them to get back to me on it but I bet it’s pretty close). Now nearly every home in Wylie is costing the city money.  Who thought THAT was a good idea?  They need to be severely punished.   Maybe a good ‘ole stoning or tar and feather would be in order.

I got into some interesting phone calls and emails with several people over the last week.  The net result coming from those conversations is that some of the council members seem to feel they are paying their fair share in taxes while they point the fingers at others sitting on council who they feel are not.
Let’s test the home value theory and look at some key players:

Reported below: Name, Home Value, & Tax Paid to the City of Wylie
Mayor Eric Hogue $126,288 pays $1135.20

Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth $590,505 appraised value, assessed value $187,620 thanks to his agriculture exemption and his other little piece of land with $ 60,440 appraisal and assessed value $39.00 Ignoring his whopping $39 slice of land, he pays the city $1686.52 in taxes.

Councilwoman Kathy Spillyards $164,903 pays $1482.31

Councilman Rick White $178,000 pays $1600.04

Councilman Bennie Jones $175,705 pays $1579.41

Councilman David Goss $144,363 pays $1297.68

Councilwoman Diane Culver $154,445 pays $1388.31

Let’s look at some other key players past and present:
Carter Porter $115,373, $$1037.09
Mindy Manson $276,776, $2487.94
Former Mayor John Mondy has several home values and they range between $144k - $160K with an average of $1366.33 per home owned paid in city taxes.

Nope, there is not one current council member with a home value that meets the breakeven point, so the babbling I heard recently about home values was merely a tittering on of the mouth about how one member of council pays a ridiculous amount as compared to everyone else on council.  That is a bunch of bunk.
When people moved into Wylie years ago, THIS is what Wylie had to offer.  Homes valued around the $150K mark which don’t pay for themselves. This was our normal folks and I cannot blame the homeowners for it.  Can you?

Everyone has a story of how they ended up here.  Of course some came for schools, some came for inexpensive housing, and some came for the country feel.  If all Wylie was offering at the boom time were homes valued between $130K - $180K, how the hell can anyone piss and moan that people are not paying their fair share?  That is just dumber than running the football toward the wrong goalpost.  To be honest, I don’t think people gave a flip about the system, and the notion of blaming them for where we are at currently is asinine.  They all have stories as to why they call Wylie home and I doubt that sucking the system dry was one of them.

I have to believe in my heart of hearts that people really hoped their home values would increase.  Why move here if you expected values to stay stagnant?  Sure, people like Councilman Rick White championed getting nicer looking building ordinances for the homes, such as the more upscale roof pitch and the fancy house numbers set in stone, and the percentage of brick on all 4 sides of our homes.  Council touted the Frisco and McKinney new home look and feel.  These were all good things.  Yet I cannot help but be pissed off every time I drive down McMillen/Park, or whatever you want to call the street that runs past Dodd, McMillan, and Davis where there are oh so lovely metal buildings and yet another freaking mini-storage going in as I write. Those lovely metal buildings will not help to increase the value of the homes around them.

When the bulk of people moved here they didn’t think about home values and infrastructure and paying for it all.  I wouldn’t expect them to either.  This is why we have a city government and it is their job to babysit these issues.  I suppose when you move into a new community, you expect those running it to know what the hell they are doing.  Thus there is great complacency among the voting public.  Hey, as long as they can pay their bills and they get a park or two and a rec center tossed their way, they are fairly happy.  Would they be if they knew the ugly truth that their taxes will likely not be lowered in any measurable way for several years to come?  Busy citizens + smoke and mirrors routine = complacent voters. 

Back in the day, community members had hoped home values would improve by approving bonds and tax increases.  Isn’t that the name of the game after all?  Nobody once ever thought the economy would crumble under us.  So as it started to slide, our fancy city hall was built, and a rec center was designed and built to run in the red, and the poop started to roll downhill. 

Because nobody wants to take the blame for our high taxes, I’m hearing city council members complain about those of us whose home values don’t cut the muster, being a large contributing factor. That is the ultimate cop out.  It’s just so easy to blame the homeowners rather than blame those who were in charge of plotting, platting, creating, and managing the growth.  

At the time it is clear no visionaries existed.  Everyone wanted their glory and instant gratification in the tangible – homes, now.  Everyone took the accolades: developers, home builders, council members, and mayors.  Nobody thought much beyond the current and following year or how packing so many same-priced homes would affect future budgets. Citizens were happy to get a new growing community, parks for their kids, and good schools.  A quietness settled in.

Was the epic marketing ploy of the century getting citizens to vote yes on bonds and tax increases without any future tax decrease when it was all said and done?  I hope not.  I think every council member since the boom has hoped to be able to reduce taxes at one point or another, but none have figured out a way to do so with any measure.  How to lower taxes with a glut of inexpensive homes and no serious property value climb in the near future is beyond comprehension.  Especially so, when employees want raises in order to stay in their jobs, and the growth brings the need for new police vehicles and more fire equipment, not to mention hows about hiring more police by the way? How can a city pay for it all and also protect citizen’s pocketbooks?  They simply cannot.  The money has to come from somewhere. 

There was a time that future homes in Wylie were the answer, but I’m afraid that time has passed us by.  Postage-stamp sized lots galore have been rampant.  I witnessed Herzog stand up in a council session telling council and audience members alike that numerous surveys asked people what they want in Wylie.  He claimed what people want is cheap-assed, zero lot line homes crammed together.  Give me an effing break.  In my opinion, the city had their titty twisted by developers like Herzog who raped the system and came back for more lot size and home size revisions, just as Herzog did recently.  He asked council to allow fitting a handful more of cheaper homes than was originally planned into Woodbridge. I suspect very amenable councils of past said yes to these requests over the years and now we must live with the consequences. 

The tide has changed in Wylie and it wasn’t until a recent meeting that I witnessed Councilwoman Diane Culver motion to accept changes to the coming Bloomfield Homes development. As she motioned to accept the changes they requested, she also demanded specific home sizes and specified what quantity of each size was acceptable to council.  That’s right.  WE should tell THEM how it’s going to be and not the other way around.  Too bad nobody was brilliant enough to think this through in the past.  When Phase II looked an awful lot like Phase I and Phase III was just a threepeat, nobody defined what the actual future taxpayer might really look like in the end.  Love the Bloomfield Homes community concept but 100+ homes priced around the breaking point are not enough to ease the current tax burden on the other homeowners, even multiplied.  There is not enough room left to make that plan work. 

How did Wylie end up with so many recessionary priced homes over the years?  I can’t help but wonder if some back-door deals weren’t done years ago, but as the foundations have already been poured, I suppose that is all academic now.   The question is how do we get the tax burden relief that citizens deserve?  How do we stop the sucking sound which is our wallets being picked clean by a combination of county, school, and city taxes?  How do we do right by the city employees?  How do we do right by the fire and police?

We must now look to commercial property as the answer.  Will the movie theatre help increase property values?  Will the hospital help toward that goal?  Would hike and bike trails bring people willing to spend more for a home?  Yes actually they all do have a cumulative effect on taxes, but it brings a slow growth in surrounding property values to be sure.

As I see it, the true visionaries that exist in current day Wylie are Sam Satterwhite and the WEDC.  I feel that at this juncture they may be our only saving grace.  You know, one conversant stated something that stuck in my craw last night.  I heard the words “low-income housing” uttered and my radar rose quicker than a Grackle can splat the ground with some good old fashioned guano.

I don’t know about you, but it makes me seriously suck wind, especially after my Habitat for Humanity post the other day.  Good God is this what Wylie needs, along with a retirement community on 544?  Are we going to drive through Wylie and feel like we are in the Bronx as I do when I drive North Westgate?  Is Wylie going to become the government housing capital of North Texas?  I hope not because those people will not be bringing the bread and butter to lure commercial entities and Satterwhite’s commercial endeavor work may be for naught.  Is this what Wylie has come to?   Wylie kowtows to the indigent and the first-time and last-time home-buyers?  

The home value to tax rate quotient thing isn’t cutting it, especially if we have more low-income and retirement home communities coming our way. If we want a snowball’s chance in hell of having our taxes lowered anytime soon, it will have to be EDC that gets that done inadvertently through their commercial development deals.  Personally, I am looking to WEDC Executive Director Sam Satterwhite to pull some miracles out of his magic hat for us.  Sam has bode very well for us in the past because you can  thank your lucky stars we now have Target & Kohls helping ease our tax burden, along with the Extruders deal many years ago.  Will Sam be able to write yet another chapter in the book of Wylie?   Like the little engine that could, I think he can.  No pressure old Sam, no pressure.