Land of Milk and Honey

Our City Council is a collective piece of work.  I mean, in what community the size of ours would you find a group of citizens mounting the backsides of their Council and riding them hard in order to get them to focus on their constituents’ wants and needs?  In what community would you find a group of citizens studying the budget and Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) because they know the budget must be right-sized and if the leaders in the city are unwilling to exert the time and effort then citizens will?   

Most community members are merely along for the ride, not troubling themselves too much with the dirty details.  Someone has to do it, and better to let the elected officials figure it all out.  Just give me some parks and keep your dumb ordinances away and it’s all good. Well it’s not all good in Wylie at the moment because our taxes are ridiculous and we are not getting anything worthy of it. Oh there is that Rec Center and baseball diamonds.  Not enough.

Shouldn’t you see your City Officials as working sort of hand in hand with you, the Joe Plummer of Wylie?  Don’t most citizens wrangle with the idea of a group of highly compensated lobbyists in DC who are able to finagle their will upon the politicians by tossing them cold hard cash?

Journey back in time and think about the Tea Partiers and how they marched in DC and other cities and demanded that everyday voices be heard, AND taken seriously?  No matter what you think of the Tea Party people, they are nothing more than angry taxpayers who believe it is time for someone to start waking up those in charge because they have been allowing their pipe dreams to infiltrate reality.

Though I find myself not so in tune with the Tea Party people any longer because I don’t particularly care for the Sarah Palin’s and Ron Paul’s of the world, I do see their overall point.  As a Joe Plummer of Wylie, I believe it’s time to get the leaders out of the political race that have forgotten their constituents.  Ya us, those little people known as the taxpayers.  It’s time our leaders work hand and hand with the little people.

Believe me, if we could recall every person on our City Council, we would.  Unfortunately, of these Wylieites that Mayor so lovingly states are engaged and active in the city, nobody worth their salt is standing up to run for Council and we keep getting the same cast of rotating undereducated church members, former mayoral pals, and boards and commission members skating figure eights through the election process.  I know a lot of Joe Plummers in Wylie who are angry as hell, but I don’t see any of them stepping up to run for City Council.  Wylie is not full of engaged people as Mayor likes to tout.  Wylie is full of bunches of people who don’t give a shit, about anything, and it shows.  Believe me it shows.  Just take a drive up and down the streets of Wylie and see what so-called engaged people look like. 

Certainly we have some soccer moms and baseball dads, a couple HOA groups, and those dance moms but overall, these are the people interested in their kids and the schools.  These people moved here because of the schools, not because of what the City Council was pimping.  I suppose there must be something said for our Wylie ISD trustees, though I have been a bit hard on them in the past.  Without WISD, I do not believe there would be anything else of intrinsic value drawing the people to move to Wylie.  Do you?  At this juncture, the schools are not enough.  Do you think people are going to move to Wylie just because they have a Ross and a Petsmart? We don't have high income jobs, that is for certain.  Wylie can toot their horn at bringing new jobs to the area but minimum wage retail and restaurant jobs will not support anything but low income housing.  Thankfully a hospital may help that somewhat, but it is too little too late.

We discovered that calling ourselves Wide Awake Wylie did not conjure up any warm and fuzzy feelings, rather the contrary.  So we now call ourselves the City between the lakes, yet go down to those lakes and I dare say, find yourself some type of draw that would bring people with money here.  Can you find anything?  Collin Park is a decent enough park but it is private, costs money to get in, and they are out of money and no longer sponsor those boat races and fishing tournaments like they used to.  The marinas are OK, but are nothing compared to Rockwall or Lewisville or even Texoma.  Why have we not capitalized on the lakes?  If the City really wanted to draw in some tax dollars, they would need to embrace some bars, restaurants, and some real estate in the form of big-ass houses and ritzy condos that overlook the lakes and provide the purchase-power peeps some views worth plunking down the big bucks for.  These lakes have been staring us in the face for decades yet they sit idle.  Why have we ignored them?  Rather, we fall back on the old adage that we must deal with that ominous entity called Corps of Army Engineers.  If Rockwall and Lewisville could do it, why didn’t we?

Capitalizing on Lake Lavon seems eons away. I suppose I will have to be happy with our small pittance in that we just might be able to right-size our budget this year.  I must be happy with the one tiny iota of hope in that we may finally have the attention of our City leaders.  It has not been easy getting here, and though we have not arrived quite yet, I suspect all things budget will begin to fall together and gel into something a little more reasonable than the original outcry in June of a $173K shortfall.  Yes, in the land of milk and honey, all seem destined to be right in the world. 

On Tuesday night, Wylie City Manager Mindy Manson will be allowed to refinance her bonds, in loose layman’s terms, and buy those two dubious Quints.  You know, those are the large as hell trucks we see rolling down the road for every emergency call.  It is not like we didn’t need them, um let’s say 6 years ago but hey, evidently the money is growing on trees in Wylie and suddenly and we have the money to buy all $1.5M worth by going into more debt. Yes, your City Manager has the ability to issue certificates of obligation without asking the taxpayers to approve. 

Also on the agenda for Tuesday night’s Wylie City Council meeting is another tiresome budget work session.  I hear tell they will be discussing the idea of giving taxpayers a decrease.  Well I should say so.  I suspect as part of the slated work session a $.01 cent decrease will be discussed but it really ought to be $.02 cents.  The amount of taxes Wylie’s citizens pay should be an outright crime, right up there with a new storefront in Chicago called Blago’s Bodies for Sale.  Oh I’m sure the Wylie View crowd will whine about their monthly pizza worth of tax break, but these are the same people that will whine and bemoan just about anything.   

I suspect if I bothered to study the regulars on that rag, I would be able to pick them out at City Council or Boards and Commissions meetings.  It seems the same old, same old are what have always existed in Wylie which is why we are becoming the discount store, low-income capital of North Texas.  There is no originality in thought or deeds and these are the same people dragging our city down by applauding every new Habitat for Humanity Home and every low-income housing and postage size lot with cheap homes project Don Herzog Development rams at them.  If you are looking for upscale, you might want to downsize that idea to 100+ more homes crammed into Woodbridge because that is what you are more likely to find.

Honestly, a $.01 cent tax decrease represents roughly a quarter of a million cost to the City, so double that would certainly be doable. The money exists in one form or another in our budget.  There is this nifty rainy day fund floating around and I hear tell that our City had more in there than the 25% that was required in last year’s budget meetings. 

Remember back to when I pointed out just how important it was to keep at least 25% of our total budget in a rainy day fund so that we do not lose our bond rating? This came about last year during the budget cycle when our City Manager requested the advice from an independent party.  Not only did Mommio and Daddio keep that 25% in the kettle, they cooked up several million more to add.  Like pouting children, our City leaders are now stirring that kettle and complaining that we ‘made’ them keep that money in there rather than spend it.  Honestly.  That is tantamount to a pouting child who was misbehaving at dinner and sent to their room, only to start a hunger strike and never eat again.  Seems like a self-deprecating, form of self-punishment.  Imagine an apoplectic Mayor Hogue puffing out, “Fine, if we can’t spend the money because eyes are upon us, and because spending is always preferable, we’ll just make less money available and really show them.” Such ridiculous platitudes.  I want to know, who does an attitude like that benefit?

If there are extra monies coupled with the 25%, they cannot be used for recurring expenses, such as pay raises.  It is money that is not ‘routine’ in the budget.  However the extra funds can be used for new fixed assets, say like those menacing Quints.  In fact, I made a prediction during the election season that we did indeed have the money to do all those things we wanted to do.  You would have a long search back through my ramblings, but I did state that I could cut that budget and come up with the raises, the extra police bodies, fix that nasty old police station, buy the Quints, and provide a tax break to the citizens.  Why?  Because we have the highest tax rate in all of North Texas and a Council that allows expenses to meet revenue and has spent little time cutting to the bone. 

It seems that now, perhaps finally, our budget will be right sized, though we will take on more debt to do it which is a bad plan.  I would caution that it took a lot of citizen participation, interaction, and blogging to get these people off their dead asses.  If what it takes to get the people’s will done is to install straps to the backsides of our Council and administration, then that is what we will do.....and the milk and honey will flow.