Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Fire, the Cause and the Lie

You are my 911 call today. There is a fire in the woods. Residents of The Woodlands need your vote. There is a "70%" lie on signs and in advertisements, costing some $244,000+.  The controversy of the lies is a fire literally roaming in our neighborhoods. The lies surround a claim that you need to vote against a 70%+ rise in property taxes. The 70% claim is nothing but a scare tactic.

As I mentioned in the last post of the commentary, the financials of this effort are crazy. First, we do not even know the parameters of incorporation and second, we do not know how much it will cost because it is not defined, nor the financial assessment for taxes. There is also no law supporting our incorporation. There are several variables that determine the cost. One critical factor is how we would define incorporation. Secondly, what problems are we trying to solve. Third, what are the risks involved and how much risk we want to take.

I think most people recognize and understand that when the Tea Party considers candidates, it looks into cost and what is good value for the residents. Value is the only way to look at government change or decisions. A dramatic lie like this one is not the way to look at it. "The Woodlands Concerned Taxpayer PAC" continues to tell these lies, as if residents can't see through it. One thing for sure, most of our residents are pretty darn smart. New voters however may not have sufficient exposure to local politics to know who are backing the developers' PAC, which is financing the candidates against incorporation.

It is very important to put your thinking hat on and expose the lie in your own mind. I believe that we have several big problems that can be solved only with legislation. Incorporation is one solution alternative and status quo, another. Are there others? I have not seen anyone look at that yet. I believe we can define incorporation such that we continue to contract services, rent existing facilities and build nothing. We should be able to operate on what we defined for taxes for the Township. The public agreed we could have taxation at $0.32 per $1000 property valuation when we voted for the Township model. Returning to that would be a modest 39% raise in Woodlands taxes. A far cry from 70+%! Now keep in mind that the signs and brochures don't tell you anything about where that number 70 came from. The candidates and PAC also say that the average cost of incorporation would amount to $57,000 for the average taxpayer. Everything they say is inflated and designed to scare residents. Who in  their right mind would compute average cost anyway? For the aggregate of people in The Woodlands, any meaningful statistic would be for the median value, not the average. That is too much. You can easily compute your own, as I did. Assume a 40% rise in your Woodlands tax rate $0.23 to $0.32).  Now saying that, I want to be perfectly clear, unlike the opponents of incorporation. That number is a guess based on discussions I have had with others. $0.32 would make a good logical cost constraint in my mind. But that could be inflated up a little to account for economic inflation from when we initially voted for the township.

Assuming we can define incorporation and accomplish the needed services to protect our community from being a county conduit of traffic, and do it within the financial limits that I have noted, I calculated my own taxes. That was $185/year rise, or 39% increase. For under $20/month, I would retain the quality of life that I demand here. I predict that it will take three years from now to be able to incorporate, if we started working on it now. We would require legislation to enable incorporation. To do that, we first have to define incorporation for us.

So for the next 37 years, it would cost me, including compounded interest, some $18,000 more than the 2017 $0.23 tax rate. I am confident that amount would easily be recovered from probable devaluation loss due to the noise, the traffic and the general discontent of the residents of The Woodlands caused by not being a city. I call it "house insurance". The logic of the opposing PAC includes comparisons of tax rates with other nearby cities. The trouble with that is - we have an HOA upkeep contract on our residences included in our government model. Other cities typically do not. Each neighborhood has their own HOA rules and those regulations cost money to enforce, folks. We are able to include all of our property taxes in IRS returns (including HOA expenses) of The Woodlands residents, since it is all bundled into our property taxes.

Since the candidates on the slate of the corporate PAC are not showing any interest in protecting our community from devaluations of the future, I advise residents to not vote for them. The Woodlands Concerned Taxpayers want residents to be blocked from moving forward. Translated, that means we would not be represented. They would likely define incorporation, establish higher costs than we would want, and then elect not to vote on it. Even if they did allow us to vote, we would likely not have the opportunity to participate. I would not trust them at all, because they are financially supported by the PAC and their election essentially bought. So instead of protecting our community, they might even spend money irresponsibly to avoid incorporation. That is in a nutshell, how I feel this will progress should they be elected.

We need creative conservative thinking and action to get us to where we should already be in government. Having a unique form of Texas government prevents us from being included with other cities in regional planning issues. It just makes sense for us to be on equal footing with surrounding cities.

So vote for the  Gordy Bunch (who has had a tremendous term in office since elected and is the most creative thinker on the Board), Brian Boniface, John Anthony Brown, and Bruce Rieser. Electing only Mr Bunch does us little good on moving forward, because he needs more voting support on the Board of Directors. All four are excellent candidates. I had hoped to see Mike Bass help us to confront these issues, but he has abandoned his position in favor of fighting the proposal with corporate big money. He has not listened very well to residents nor asked for our opinions. We should have a government by and for the people of this community, not by and for the developers in the county.

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