Ugly Tax Machine

Right now I’m thinking readers are scratching their heads and wondering exactly what the heck kind of people we have with their hands all over this City right now, running it into the ground?  Our property taxes are ridiculously sick, our school taxes are incredibly painful, our home values are dropping like it’s hot, and some of our candidates, along with their Wylie old school pals, want to keep it all the same. 

What exactly is their vested interest in getting a questionable character like Nathan Scott and a 3 time past loser like Gilbert Tamez on council?  I’ve pondered this multiple times and I truly believe it is because Nathan Scott and Gilbert Tamez will give Council exactly what Red Byboth gives Council: another spend and tax vote.  The ultimate non-dissent.  When thinking on that a little further, I wonder why is it so important to this old school Wylie crowd to keep our City Machine status quo?  The only reason I can come up with is because Mayor Eric Hogue has been voting that way since he got in office in 2008.  It certainly isn’t because they have been making sound decisions.  That is pretty clear by looking at where our budget is, where our tax rate is, and what amenities we have compared to other similar communities.  In fact, with Mayor Eric Hogue, unless there is alcohol involved, he has never been on the losing side of any vote in all his years as Mayor.  Never.  His votes have always been in favor of spending and taxing.  Well isn’t that special. 

Why is this election so incredibly delicate for Mayor Eric Hogue and why is the Pastor/Preacher supporting someone with such a questionable background, someone who lied to the public about voting, and who clearly does not have his anger under control yet?  Think on it a minute.  Heaven forbid the fence perching Hogue have to change his stance should the majority suddenly go the way of cutting spending.  I mean, what sort of a flaming idiot would Mayor look like if he abruptly started voting with a new majority for all the things he has voted against in the past? 

Yep, you heard that right, ‘new majority’.  That is the lie being spread around town anyway, that there is going to be some sort of fictitious ‘new majority’ should Nathan Scott and Gilbert Tamez not make it on council.  Well if you expect to see a Goss, Butschek, Jones, Culver vote on cutting taxes and cutting spending then yes I suppose there would be a consensus, but as far as any other vote goes, I suspect they are going to be all over the place as they have been in the past.  This mistruth being spread about town by the old school Wylie crowd is another prime example of a scare tactic being put out by the Good Old Boy camp who are supporting Nathan Scott and Gilbert Tamez because they are terrified of losing control of the city.  In fact, they want the voters to think that THEIR majority vote never existed and that they never used their foursome muscle to beat the crap out of the three conservatives on council on every vote that involved fiscal accountability.  It’s as if THAT never happened.  It’s as if those years of Councilman David Goss taking it in the gut as the others committed group thuggery never occurred.  Interesting. 

In my opinion, Catherine Butschek’s .04 cent tax cut is a bit precocious at this stage of the budget game.  However if her ultimate goal is to reduce our taxes by that amount say, over 4 years then I could understand it, but to go for gold in one swoop simply isn’t going to happen.  As savvy voters, we know that. As savvy voters, we know it will take time to right-size our City tax rate and we are willing to be patient about it, even if the relief comes in $14.11 increments every year for many years.  You see, we are smart like that.  Besides, proposing such a large dump in taxes next budget would likely give City Manager Mindy Manson a coronary, Mayor Eric Hogue would have a sweaty, red-faced conniption, and frankly I can’t see Councilmembers Culver, Goss, or Jones supporting that drastic of a cut in taxes in one budget season.  Nope, it’s not gonna happen.

That said, Butshek’s idea is a good one because she has indeed listened to the people and despite what the Alicia White’s, Nathan Scott’s, Gilbert Tamez’s and the Earl Newsom’s of the world say, the majority of people in Wylie are sick to death of our ridiculous tax rate and the lies and deceit being spread about cutting police and fire protection in order to lower it.  If the public is buying into that alarmist nonsense, then they are buying into the same old rhetoric being spewed by every liberal out there.  This rhetoric ignores the simple and effective idea of cutting spending.  Heaven forbid anyone in the old school Wylie even entertain that idea. 

I’ll say it again because it is so critical at this very moment.  Cut spending.  Now there’s a novel new idea.  For Wylie, it can and should be done, especially in conjunction with the new retail sales tax we are about to begin raking in with even more shopping and a movie theatre.  Oh and nobody even mentioned the taxes we’ll rake in on a new medical center/hospital.

I am convinced without a doubt, that there is enough waste that can be cut which, in conjunction with the increasing sales tax revenue, can free up the funds needed to provide a .01 cent tax break each year over 4 years.  There is enough that can be cut to provide funds for the Police Chief to hire at least 4 new officers a year over 4 years.  There will be enough to provide stepped pay increases to the employees over the next 4 years.  There is enough to be cut that can afford us to set aside funds for two quints over the next 4 years and pay cash for them rather than leverage them because in all reality, we do not actually need a 4th fire station.  In four years at 200 new housing starts a year, we can be right were we need to be with the budget and finished with this abject mis-management that has taken place over the last 10 or more years.  Cut spending and make purchases fit in the budget through measured planning in order to lower the tax rate for the people, and refusing to take on more debt which will ultimately increase our taxes.  Though Nathan Scott would have you believe that leveraging equipment is always a preferable plan to paying cash. I disagree.  According to him, taking on debt and paying it back with interest is always preferable to paying with cash.  Now there’s some sound financial planning for you.

My list of items can all be done but it requires cutting spending in other areas, something the City claims they did when they asked their departments to scale back their budgets 20%.  To that I say, is that all? 

Since 2008 the City has not cut much if any fat out of the budget.  Oh, they did away with the music in the park stuff, but they might as well have done away with that anyway. Truthfully it was not a very large crowd draw as hardly any people showed up for those events.  I know, I was at them.  The only deal that was a potential money maker was the July Jubilee and at least they were smart enough to keep that one.   

Yet during that time since 2008 when they should have been seriously downsizing, is when the bulk of our retail sales tax started to come online in Wylie, most particularly in the past 2 years.  Would that not be a fair assessment? I believe it is. 

What that means is that our Wylie City Council has given us a bad case of goesinta and goesouta at mutually increasing levels.  Meanwhile they tossed out a few cursory cutbacks to appear as if the City was actually doing something and actually scaling back.  Do you recall the newspaper article a couple years ago about them lamenting cutting the Music in the Park?  Yes, I was at one concert where there were probably 40-50 people and I wondered if this was a concert put on specifically for our city leaders and their families because there was hardly anyone else there. 

In fact, it makes me laugh every time Mayor Eric Hogue stands up at a political event and tells attendees that Wylie is a group of citizens who truly get involved in their city and care.  Then I take a quick look at the 40-50 people in attendance and the 600-700 who vote out of 43,000 citizens and I wonder how he can truly state that with a straight face. 

In all fairness, let’s run the Nathan Scott and Gilbert Tamez gauntlet then, shall we?  Let’s pretend we believe these two boobs and buy into their bond rhetoric.  Let’s pretend the 600 people who come out to vote put these tiddlywink mentalities in place and they decide a bond is the only way for us to pay for all the things that Mayor and Council want.  Now let’s say the public is actually stupid enough to approve a bond that comes to vote.  Ultimately the bond increases our taxes because someone will have to pay for the interest on the building of a new fire station number four along with two ¾ million dollar quints and all the other equipment necessary to set up shop. Oh heavens and we haven’t even discussed how we are going to fill that fire station with personnel.  Will our Police Chief continue to suffer at the hands of our Fire Captain, who keeps getting the sweet deals?  I mean look at the Taj Mahal on Brown, then look at the old City Hall our police have.  Is that the 4th fire station we have to look forward to building with a bond?

What will we have to show for our .92 cent tax which we will ultimately hit because Mayor Eric Hogue wants us there, as he tells us that all the time, and because there will be no other way to pay for these items if our council continues spending the way they spend, refusing to cut anything, continuing to give funds to non-profits that come with their hands out, approving low-income housing, painting water towers, and patching alleyways, approving handing over a rather large building to an exclusive group of seniors which will ultimately stand empty and not pay for itself because they don’t collect dues. All this while our property values continue to plummet (in the past year from $153K to $141K). 

Our tax rate is already ridiculously and unproportionately high compared to every other city in North Texas.  Don’t you ever wonder how the other communities make ends meet?  In a dream world, even if our tax rate stayed the same and we used the increasing tax revenue to cover the fire station requirements, what will we have to show for it all then?  We will have 4 fire stations with no personnel and if personnel are shuffled around then what the hell was our need in building a 4th station then?  (At 200 or less new housing starts a year we don’t have a real need for a 4th fire station just yet, by the way.)  Meanwhile we will have a ridiculously understaffed police department by our current lack of 16 officers.  We will have a City Hall that the citizens think is butt ugly and a Rec Center that continues to lose money year after year.  We will have a huge Senior Center that about 70 people routinely visit and which sits empty every night and doesn’t make any revenue to help offset the cost.  Our median home value will decrease to some ridiculously low rate like $136K, bringing with it a sea of foreclosures because nobody can get out of their house when they can’t even sell it for scrap wood.  Yup, our leaders is smart in Wylie and we keep putting them thar smart people up thar in office. 

Is this the City of Wylie’s plan to lower our taxes?  They devalue our property so much it lowers our tax outgo.  Oh I see, they must be getting some really sound financial advice from an uber savvy financial advisor. 

Don’t you see the ridiculousness of those statements?  If our Council refuses to cut spending, rather keeping spending in line with incoming tax revenue as they have been in the past, and we approve a bond, they will have no choice but to increase our taxes in order to pay for it.  This is what you are voting for in this election.  THIS is why the seniors, whose tax rate is frozen by the way, and the Good Old Boys on council and behind the scenes are quaking in their boots, even supporting a man who does not have his temper in check, who struck his own wife and was arrested, and who yelled at his opponent in the Candidate Forum just the other night.  Ask yourself WHY are they supporting that and you will probably come to the same conclusion I have.

The Wylie tax machine is ugly and it is being run by some lackluster people who are unwilling to cut spending.  They want you to vote in more of the same.  They think paying for it all is our problem, as taxpayers, and as our fine Mayor Eric Hogue pointed out at the last City Council meeting, our tax rate is supposed to be even higher, so we should be bowing and kissing his ring in favor.  I don’t know about you, but I’m so over this Mayor and the Gang of Four on this council and where they are taking our City.  If we wanted to be pickpocketed by a congenial guy and his pals, we might just as easily have voted in Mayor McCheese, Ronald McDonald, Grimace, Officer Big Mac, Captain Crook, Birdie the Early Bird, and the Hamburglar.