Hays County Spending and Over-taxation

Peter Stern – As a Hays County resident and homeowner for more than 13 years, I support most issues underscored by the 96-member Citizen’s Group. I also support the Commissioners, although I disagree with some of their actions, particularly with ongoing and increased expenditures.

I also lobbied against the road bond package that first was voted-down by residents and then was approved via a 2nd push by most of the Commissioners and former Rep. Patrick Rose.  I know that road updates are needed, but I question the extreme plan and expenditures of the approved road bond measure.

I voted and lobbied against the road bond packages because it just doesn’t make sense to incur such a huge long-term debt, especially during these difficult economic times.  I thought that was common sense, but obviously I was incorrect.

Hays County Commissioners and the county auditor are very fond of saying 2 things to justify these extravagant expenditures:  first, that TxDOT will reimburse roughly 80 percent of the road bond debt and secondly, that property tax increases will be minimal.  Even minimal tax increases must not be so justified in such lean economic times.  Furthermore, TxDOT is not in a financial position to make such promises, even with Federal support.  I strongly believe that fiscal conservation must be practiced at all times, especially during the current severe economic depression.

Regarding the road bond package:  First, this is a long-term debt for the County that will continue for too many years.  Secondly, no matter what the actual amount of the property tax increases each year, homeowners already are overtaxed and bear too much of the County’s tax burden.  It is unconscionable that Commissioners are still willing to continue to increase expenditures, e.g., the proposed new county building in Precinct 2 that also will add to taxpayer woes.

There is no justification to increase the County’s debt at this time and to increase the burden of already overtaxed homeowners, no matter what the actual annual tax increases will be.  Property taxes are increased via 3 main efforts:

Increasing the tax rate, which fortunately has not been done that much during recent years;
Increasing annual home and land values — this year is the first time that values have been toned somewhat;
Increasing taxes via various school and road bonds, even though voters must approved them first.

Especially in lean years, there is no justification to incur more debt, even if the voters previously approved expenditures.  That was then, and this is now.  Fiscal restraint must be the major priority.  As for updating county roadways, only minimal and actually needed safety updates should be continued; consequently, the original bond package should be modified and the expenditures trimmed accordingly. 

With all due respect and encouragement, I urge Commissioners to reconsider all expenditure plans and to continue only those proposals and plans that are emergencies and/or are urgently needed for the welfare of the community.  Intelligence should prevail.

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March 23rd, 2011

Staff Reporter EducationNews.org

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