One of the things I like most about municipal government is that it is the most basic form of democratic governance. It’s up-close and personal. It’s where the rubber meets the road. We make decisions virtually every day that directly affect the lives of our community. Most importantly, we in city government have to live our lives here, and be affected by those decisions as well – every day. We get feedback every day as to what is working and what is not working in our city. And that feedback is usually eye-witnessed, hands-on, or face-to-face.
City governance is about dealing with basic needs and common sense – it is not ideological.
Don’t get me wrong, I have my own political beliefs and my own ideological opinions, but there is just no room for the divisiveness of partisan politics when dealing with local issues.
Yes, we have to deal with TxDOT because their highways are our main thoroughfares, and we do apply for state and federal grants for various operations and economic development. Apart from that, we make our own rules, and we spend our own money, because we know what’s best for ourselves. This is what is called local control, and it is the keystone in creating the great American lifestyle. It allows you to “vote with your feet” – If you don’t like the way a city is being run, you can go to another - or “vote the rascals out!”
I’ve tried to steer clear of state and national politics since I’ve been mayor. Things like streets, drainage, parks, utilities, animal control, police, and fire/EMS have nothing to do with partisan politics, and it should stay that way.
So, forgive me while I break my own rules and talk about state politics.
As everyone knows, Austin’s city motto is “Keep Austin Weird”, and the legislature is doing everything possible to make that motto stick.
What’s really weird is that these so-called conservatives who preach the virtues of the 10th amendment and local control are now trying to force the will of the state legislature down the throats of local municipalities and school districts. I consider myself a conservative, and this really has me scratching my head.
In their zeal to prove they are tax-cutting super-heroes, they are passing the buck to local entities, and blaming us for their short-sighted and incompetent ability to figure out proper ways to collect and spend our money.
Imagine if the federal government decided to tell the Texas Legislature how to tax, and what to tax and how much you can tax - these so-called conservatives would be screaming to high heaven about local control… But somehow these paragons of conservatism have no problem telling us what we can do on the local level.
Here’s what they want to do. They are proposing a 2.5% per year cap on the increase of local property tax. This is on the actual dollar amount of the increase, which is usually due to the increase in appraised value. Anything higher than that would trigger a roll-back election to approve the increase. This applies only to the part of the tax that is for maintenance and operations (M&O). It does not apply to the portion that is for debt service.
Here's the good news - so far, we in Seguin are well below exceeding the 2.5% limit on our M&O taxation. It is not an issue here… yet.
Here’s the bad news – Our rapid growth will inevitably spike our necessary spending on additional police, fire and city personnel, along with maintenance costs on the additional buildings, equipment, vehicles and infrastructure. We could be over that 2.5% growth in M&O in no time at all.
This legislation will have an immediately negative effect on many Texas cities, and it could be a big impediment to our growth and public safety here in Seguin.
The legislature needs to leave us alone to solve our own problems.
Gosh, I love this town!