My written comments-Ector Co. Commissioners Court
Here was my written testimony submitted to the Ector County Commissioners Court for their public hearing on August 21, 2014 regarding their proposed tax rate.
Jason Moore Public Comments on tax rate:
Commissioners & Judge Redford,
Please take a look at the following charts:
This is the combined tax levy on a real home in Ector County for the past 20 years. Notice a trend? Now take a look at this same home’s total market value the last 20 years.
While we are all perfectly aware that taxing entities are not responsible for the valuations of property we are aware that you are responsible for countering the increase in valuations by DECREASING the tax RATE. We all desire our homes to increase in value because it is most people’s largest asset & investment. However, this increase in value is not meant to be a windfall for taxing entities. Do you realize that every year local taxing entities reap an annual reward for MY home & others’ homes increasing in value while we do not realize that value increase unless we sell our home?
I would request that Ector County Commissioners Court report each year to the taxpayers how many positions were funded by last year’s budgets that went unfilled at the end of the year and what that dollar value is in the budget (including taxes, retirement, healthcare, etc.).
Next, a lack of funding by the taxpayer is not the problem with Ector County’s budget. In looking at your CAFR showing the last 10 years of actual revenues and expenditures I see an increase of revenues from $36.9 million in 2004 to $57.89 million in 2013. I see administrative expenditures balloon from $646,000 in 2004 to $2.75 MILLION in 2013. Law enforcement has increased by roughly 50% ($4.2 million-$6.8 million) while corrections has almost doubled ($7.7 mil-14.08 mil). Lastly, as far as the expenditures, maintenance costs have exploded from $3.9 million to as high as $7.5 million. My point is that it appears that no one seems to be controlling costs and there is an expectation that every department is entitled to more dollars each & every year. Technology hasn’t streamlined any of our departments? It seems that technology has required us to have MORE manpower & expenses! Perhaps, it is time that you on the Commissioners Court invest time into privatizing some departments like road & bridge, the cemetery and maintenance for example.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention by utter dismay that elected officials would place themselves on the employee step pay system.
I don’t recall a single person running for their current position on the platform of “Elect ME! I will place myself on a system where I guarantee myself annual salary increases into eternity and everyone who holds this office after me”! To have your stated justification for this as “I’m on committees, I have to listen to ideas, I get paper cuts” or any other absurd excuse is unconscionable especially in light of the fact that most of you have uttered the phrase “I want to give back to my community”; How is that “giving back to the community? That phrase has an understanding of sacrifice; perpetual raises do not.
Some have indicated they could make more money other places; by all means if MORE MONEY is what you’re after then please feel free to resign your post early and pursue greater financial rewards. Don’t expect taxpayers being buried by local, state & federal taxes to pay you at level that you desire to accommodate a certain lifestyle.
Please take time to read Texas Comptroller Susan Combs report on local government.
Here’s a few tidbits from that report.
I would ask you to lower the rate to the effective rate to preserve as much of our rights to the value of our property as possible.