The Devil We Need
As unpopular as my next statement will likely be, because Habitat for Humanity is certainly a worthy cause, I am going to make it anyway. I am sick to death of Habitat for Humanity ramming piss-poor families into Wylie where our tax dollars will ultimately end up supporting these people in one way or another. For the love of God and Adam and Eve, how can this be a good thing for Wylie?
Carcinogenic words to be sure, because our lot in life according to the bible is to give to those who have less. So how can I make such a blunt statement about a charity that helps people in need? Well ‘need’ is a relative term and I won’t go into home ownership being a need versus a want because my ultimate point here is about the cost to Wylie, so track with me here for a moment before you call me an elitist.
As a fiscal conservative, I have to blame the rather bland housing and small, cheap lots in Wylie on our previous councils who allowed developers and home builders to slap in hundreds of vanilla, cheap, quick and dirty homes in the early- to mid-2000s. In hindsight, it was probably not the best plan. Firstly, because the minimum threshold at which a home in Wylie no longer costs the City money is $250K, and because the land is cheap enough to bring the Habitat people sniffing around, and finally because none of the homes I am talking about are worth anywhere near the amount needed to cover what they cost taxpayers.
Fiscally speaking, it is not a great plan to front load a possibly disastrous amount of homes that are going to cost the city dearly in the hope of drawing in even more homes that will make up for that difference. It didn’t happen. That plan had a trickle down effect as well. It affects the types of businesses that are willing to call Wylie home.
Sure, there are some quality new home builders, such as the beautiful Bloomfield Homes, but they are too little, too late to offset the ratio. Now we must rely on my bff Sam Satterwhite and the WEDC to bring in some tax dollars, but only after a healthy chunk of change is skimmed off the top for several years in order to woo the businesses in.
I suppose that is how any city gets its start. They start by bringing in some lower end homes just to get on the map, and then slowly force the quality up. The problem with this plan is that city leaders at the time seemed to want some sort of instant gratification. Sure, growth and change would be expected to happen naturally but the change did not come quick enough for whatever their reasons for slamming Wylie onto the news channel weather maps were. Neighborhoods like the endless, sprawling Birmingham were slapped in, eating up the land with a sea of cookie cutter rooftops that cost the city money just by their very existence. Talk about a non sequiter.
There are pockets of more expensive homes that came, but even Woodbridge misses the mark, namely the $250K or above that are required in order to pay for their existence, and of course there must be a market for them in order to make the area desirable for those types of homes to come. In my opinion, Wylie’s leaders missed that mark just a bit. Patience and negotiating skills would have been a good thing. Even more unpopular an opinion, is slapping that Herzog Development around like the ho they are, rather than letting them set the tone for the city. That would have been brilliant. Personally, I cringe when I hear that name.
Sort of like the friction point while driving with a clutch, there was a point in time where changes to the building codes were not put in place in time. The car will lurch or sputter out if you miss that friction point. In Wylie, the home builders like Choice, Fox & Jacobs, Grand, Pulte and Centex lurched and left the skid marks across the landscape. I am confident that had the leaders not pushed so hard to boom, there might be a more diverse mix of neighborhoods.
Now our community is fairly situated and close to build out, or so we are told. We pretty much have the infrastructure in place. We have the schools, which are pretty awesome. We have a beautiful city hall, and the best fire and police that I can think of. With all of that, our taxes are astronomical and all of these lower to mid-level middle class homes and families that were drawn here have a tax burden on their backs that is exceedingly heavy for them.
Our shining star moving forward will have to be the EDC and Executive Director Sam Satterwhite. I hear so many people bash the WEDC, but I know of no other way to get more tax dollars into the community than through them. After watching our city council in action the last year and a half, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for them to reduce the burden by lowering our taxes. All they seem to want to do is spend and borrow.
If we want any real relief, Sam and gang simply must work their magic and as much as we dislike giving away the perks to bring new commercial dollars in, we must stand behind them, especially if we wish to ease our own personal tax burden. As a good friend once told me, “Sam is the devil we need.” True that, true that.
Published January 15, 2012