Thursday, August 13, 2009

Our taxes are going up again, and you can thank the 2008 road bond

A penny and a half increase would result in a 47-cent rate, making it the highest tax rate in at least the last 5 years, possibly the highest ever

Send your comments and news tips to or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story.

Editor's Note: And don't forget, next Tuesday's commissioners court business also includes a final vote (we're told) on the county's proposed updated development and subdivision regulations. You can go the county's website for all the latest & revised regulation documents.

By Bob Ochoa

RoundUp Editor

Taxpayers, next Tuesday Aug. 18 is D-Day, or better said, County Tax Day. Following their regularly scheduled meeting, our county judge and commissioners will "declare" the tax rate for the new fiscal year 2010 budget, and schedule public hearings.

Declaring the tax rate won't be the end of the process. Commissioners will only be setting a proposed rate, which can be lowered but not raised at a final vote in September which will set the tax rate in stone for one year.

But Tuesday's vote won't make it any less of a sweat for commissioners court members.
They will have to declare their intentions – and therefore much will be revealed about their character. They will either support a raise in the tax rate because of the debt being incurred by the 2008 Road Bonds, or refuse to vote for an increase and be a hero back home with the anti-tax crowd.

The RoundUp remembers that the two most visible promoters of the road bonds were Commissioners Conley (R) of Wimberley and Barton (D) of Kyle/Buda. They even posed for pictures with supporters. The big question is, will they cut n' run when the going gets tough on Tuesday?

"There's $50 million to $60 million (in debt, mostly road bonds)" coming up, a county official shared with the RoundUp. "The truth is the voters voted for it . . . there was information on a tax increase in the promotional materials."

Even while the court is said to be working hard to "hold the line on no new positions and no (pay) raises," we taxpayers likely will end up "with a penny or a penny and a half" hike in the property tax rate. The current rate is 45.5 cents on the hundred of assessed value. A penny and a half increase would result in a 47-cent rate, making it the highest rate in at least the last 5 years, possibly the highest ever (we'll check on that). We can only imagine the headlines: "Commissioners court approves highest tax rate ever . . . but Commissioner(s) (blank) say no to more taxes."

County Auditor Bill Herzog helped clarify what the proposed new tax rate will actually pay for: $10 million in "priority (road bond) roads," $50 million for "pass through" road bond projects, and an $8 million certificate of obligation for Dacy Lane reconstruction behind the new Seton Hospital complex near Kyle on I-35. The road bonds are supposed to be underwritten next week and sold in the marketplace.

"We're about to get into the heavy stuff (in county expenditures)," Herzog said.

Spending for a new county office complex and expansion of the county jail are not in the proposed 2010 budget, nor is the remaining nearly $140 million in road bond work (plus millions more in debt interest). So it's not hard to figure out where our county taxes will be going in the outlying years – up, up and away! Are you having fun, yet?

Ford working on rainwater collection incentives

We would like to take a moment to extend a hat tip to Pct. 4 County Commissioner Karen Ford for boldly going where other members of the court have dared not go. Mrs. Ford organized a volunteer "water conservation working group" earlier this year that is looking into providing additional incentives for Hays County residents and builders to install rainwater collection systems.

It's not an easy thing to do, considering the many mortgage finance requirements relating to home water supply and state law NOT allowing counties to provide certain kinds of assistance. (Can you imagine what would happen if lenders started to question groundwater in our parts as a "reliable, continuous" water supply?) A bill introduced in the last legislative session by State Rep. Patrick Rose would have helped, but alas, the bill went nowhere.

"We've got a survey going with lenders to ask about policies and procedures and their attitudes on rainwater collection," Ford told the RoundUp. "We're kind of working quietly right now and on ways that we (county) can provide incentives."

Thanks Commissioner Ford.


From one commenter:
Most lenders can't underwrite a deal like that due to the insurance companies not wanting to insure the structure, since they think if a fire occurs, and the tanks are low, not enough water would be available to put out the fire.

It is gonna boil down to insurance company policies. The lender doesn't care if the house burns to the ground, because they are the first to be paid off. They just don't want the liability for financing a home without sufficient water available (according to what they believe currently). I bet its going to be the insurance underwriters who determine if it ever gets done, not the wholesale lenders. If the insurance binder covers them for the loan balance, they don't care one way or the other.


your neighbor, Peter Stern said...

I tried many times to tell Hays County residents about the road bond issue. I said it would increase taxes well above what the Commissioners were saying. Few wanted to hear it.

The commissioners, Sen. Jeff Wentwort and Rep. Patrick Rose didn't win the first time. It took several elections and several political manipulations to frighten and/or deceive voters to approve this ridiculous plan.

The tax increases will NEVER end because, among other things, every few years there must be another bond issue to continue paying for the new roadways.

Residents were suckered into this road bond package and our children's grandchildren will continue to pay for our folly.

I no longer write on political issues. I learned that all it did was to make me ill and took away too much time from my family.

I'm sorry that the commissioners and their wealthy special interests win and the people do not.

More residents will lose their homes due to increased property taxes re: bond issues, increased tax rate, yearly appraisal increases, etc.

We, our children and future Hays County generations don't deserve that.

Anonymous said...

Oh great and mighty Peter...I hope your feelings are the same in regards to health care. Once it gets nationalized or whatever finally gets adopted by the Washington jellyfishes, our taxes will go up and up and up to pay for this nationalized folly that still will not insure everyone.

Are you not also opposed to this tax boondoggle? Can the folks of common sense for tax reform in this county count on your support for no more taxes? Including those that are imposed from on high at the national level?

Be a man about it, fess up and say that it's true - the feds are going to tax us all until we will truly be working for uncle obama and not ourselves. Are you truly anti-tax or just anti-conservative and anything to do with taxes at the local level?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #1, you are an idiot.

Stop trying to change the topic to feed your own ego by attacking Stern and what he is saying.

He is right. This bond was a special interest piece of crap. Just what we need, more taxes and increased debt during such hard financial times.

It was a stupid special interest idea by Barton and Conley with Ingalsbe sitting on the fence, for a change, and I agree with Stern --- but it is too late.

Wonder how many more homeowners will bite the dust and go into foreclosure with this added financial and emotional stress.

This blog is NOT about health care, it is about the road bond tomfoolery that will tax Hays County residents for many, many more years.

soothsayer said...

Hey, anon #1, your brain is showing symptoms of fossilization, a clear symptom of spending too much time in front of the boob tube watching Faux News and listening to your coterie of anti-american republican liars and spin masters. Please pay attention to the republican shills in your own local ranks, like Conley. He's a double dealer. DO NOT trust him at a card table, much less on the commissioners court. Betcha 20 bucks he votes NO on the tax increase. I'll even give you 3 to 1.

Anonymous said...

Why not blame the Soccer Moms and others that voted for the damn road bonds. It seems we always want to blame the politicians, and God knows they are crap. They wouldn’t be there if someone didn’t vote for them or worse stayed home on Election Day. I’m tired of the situation where it goes wrong and the Reps and Dems chose sides and spit on each other. We as a people get the government and programs we deserve.

Anonymous said...

Oooh, I sure didn't get what I deserved when I did NOT vote for Will Conley. But I agree with the point in a broad sense that we get what we deserve, in a cosmic boomerang sense. Oh, and I voted AGAINST the road bonds, so I sure as hell don't deserve to pay higher taxes to the county for that. The road bonds were sold chiefly on making our roads safer, remember? I'll challenge anyone to tell me how many fatalities have since occurred on those roads. I say we all forget party labels totally, quit the auto-voting and all become truly discerning independents. We have to learn to dismiss all the campaign lies as LIES, and recognize that most candidates are in it to carry the water of their special interest cronies. Several former county commissioners and judges are working for developer and developer related interests today. Think about it. Now we have a water well driller from Dripping running for commissioner and a looney tune real estate agent from San Marcos outskirts running for county judge, both republicans. C'on republicans, let's get real. If they get voted in, we'll really get what we deserve. Same with the Dems. I look at Barton, especially, and wonder why any intelligent Dem who knows a roller when he/she sees one, would vote for that. Are there any INDEPENDENT-MINDED and smart brains in Hays County?

Anonymous said...

“I say we all forget party labels totally, quit the auto-voting and all become truly discerning independents.”

Agreed, It doesn’t make any sense to choose a party in the local elections right up through Governor. Maybe it makes sense at the national level but I’m not sure of that either. Before moving here last year I nearly always voted Republican, then along came the dismal choices for President and I voted Libertarian. I also voted against the Road Bonds and Will Conley, both won. The proposed candidates for the commissioner’s court doesn’t look all that promising and the governor’s race seems populated with fools. Maybe I’ll join the Bull Moose Party.

Anonymous # 1 said...

Yes, it is I your ever loveable and humble common sense guy. I can see that the idiots are on the loose again. (Oh I am sorry, I guess I meant to say that the Democratic Party must have had a massive brain fart, and then all the goofballs decided to write at the same time).

Can you not see the fallacy of your own idiocy? You are against taxes locally - and you blame "republicans" - even though Barton is one of your own, including Ingalsbe. (That makes TWO Democrats - hell you people can't count anyway so why worry about it - remember the principle of reduced increases to a PROPOSED budget amounting to a "budget cut" during the Clinton Admin?)

Oh well, and not to mention that Ms. Ford also supported the same bond, and amazingly she is not dragged through the mud. Mental failure here guys? What gives?

Taxes are taxes. Republican or Democrat. Local or federal. Taxes are taxes. You idiots are so blind to your own b.s. that you can't understand that Dear Uncle Obama is going to see all you bastards down the river when it comes to this b.s. plan of his for nationalizing health care - no matter how much he lies about not wanting to put insurance companies out of business - see his comments from 2003 and 2007 to his "special interests" in which he says clearly that he wants a "single-payer system", which he now flatly denies. Since he is such the typical Democrat and can't tell the difference between the truth and a lie, no wonder he feels compelled to continue lying and believe he is telling the truth (no teleprompter).

Anyway, the CBO (Congressional Budget Office), remember Congress is controlled by Dems, says that this plan will increase taxes. That's not the Republican Party saying that, but the Congress's own bean counters. You people are as bad as the people who you claim to hate. You are so blind to the reality of where we are going with taxes that you instead would prefer to destroy the country than to admit that this doofus of a President might be wrong, and every Dem shill in Washington is going to vote lockstep with him.

Read the post above this one in tonight's blog post. The CEO of Whole Foods no less has come out against the idiocy. This guy is mister green, lefty Democrat. If he isn't a liberal, then tell me who is. And yet, as normal, the Dems will eat their own rather than admit that they might be philosophically wrong on an issue.

My dear friends, on this one you are dead wrong. You will rue the day when you will be paying your money to the federal government for substandard health coverage, and the day when the rationing begins. Half of Wimberley will be sold down the river, since you are all past your primes over there, and when the health czar decides that your life is past its productive worth, and it costs more to keep you alive than you are producing or are worth, you are history - no health care for you! (Health nazis).

So much for the end of the Third Reich. I guess with President Obama we will see the rise of the Fourth Reich, but in America versus in Germany. (I wonder who the Jews will be this time? I wonder who the federal government will pick to be their victims to be destroyed all in the interest of creating the "perfect society"? Those who are political dissidents of the President and his policies that he finds "fishy"? Maybe he will create his own gulags for those who dare question his authority or vision for a socialistic Amerika.

And then Peter the Great and the rest of the Democratic mob will be driving on their imperfect roads, on their way to their rationed health care driving a "eco-car" that is a box on wheels, hurrying to get to Austin and back before nightfall because it is too expensive to afford electricity anymore.

Oh the woes and the horrors that the future holds for your beautiful utopia. I guess my next post will be from the Mexican gulag.

Gloom&Doom said...

Grab your ankles and hold on...

It is not about Democrat or Republican. It is about issues, irresponsible elected officials and how people vote on/for them.

Anon #1, Barton is a Republican in Democratic drag. He merely runs as a Democrat.

Ingalsbe is a fence-sitter who falls off the fence periodically, ensuring her uselessness.

Ford is afraid of making waves rendering her incompetent and ineffective.

Conley is a self-serving SOB, just as Barton.

Sumter virtually is ineffective as Judge because of the self-centered wealthy special interest pandering by all the commissioners.

It is beyond party politics. Both parties suck. These commissioners do NOT act in the best interest of county residents.

Most of the people do not vote because those who run are contemptible and have caused most of our urgent issues. The people who do vote, vote for the ongoing refuse available.

There is no cause for hope. As we see on the national level, Obama is failing the people who voted in droves to put him into the White House.

Here, we have no one who stands up for the people of Hays County, at least no one honest, solid and vocal. As Lee Iacocca once stated, "Where have all the good leaders gone?"

Simply stated, county residents are doomed.

As the taxes increase, so will unemployment and then foreclosures.

Few young families will be able to afford to purchase homes here.

Those Hays County residents who have had homes for several decades will be forced out via higher taxes.

Stay in your homes and get ready for a local armegeddon. It is coming soon to your neighborhoods.

It won't matter much who you vote for. It doesn't matter what issues are approved by commissioners. There is no real oversight to protect residents.

Doom and gloom prevail...

Sick of Y'all... said...

Ahole#1 should does like to ramble on...

Stern is not a Democrat. Look at his voting record and his allegiance to the GOP as a long-time contributor. So, get off that already.

You say it's not GOP or Democrat but then you jump on the bandwagon for ridiculing the Democratic sector of this county. So, get off that one also.

You are part of what is wrong here in Hays County. Your finger points all over where it doesn't count or matter.

Anyway, since you contribute so much negativity to your neighbors, what are YOU doing to make this a positive place to live?

What are your positive suggestions and recommendations?

I haven't heard any from you yet, just a lot of unsubstantiated hot air.

So far, you are as useless as are your comments.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Hays County Roundup blog has now been hijacked by racists, bigots and fear-mongers. In the past intelligent thought-provoking dialogue happened here. Now, all we have is hate-speak (ie: Anon #1 and Anon #6 calling our President "uncle obama"). It scares the hell out of me to think that any one of you racist, bigoted crazies might actually act out.

Dem switching to Independent said...

I just got my invitation in the mail to the annual LBJ birthday party and fund raiser for the county party. I think I will boycott this year. They're not getting a red cent from me. The place is in the Barton's backyard, 2nd year in a row. It's obvious that too many vested interests and 'go along to get along' types have been attending. I'm sure Commissioner Bullcorn will hear a lot of things to placate his ego. I wonder who the facility rental money is going to (a big Barton supporter?) and if there's any under the table kick backs going on. Why not in Dripping or Wimberley? Where are the WimDems and DSDems in the decision making? Are they just playing along, pledging allegiance to the shadow leadership? I've also noticed our Dem county judge Sumter is not featured at these events. That also happened at our last county convention, also held in Kyle. Sumter was totally ignored. She's supposed to be our party leader as top elected official. If Sumter is not welcomed in the vested interest shadow leadership circle, I say good on her. She's got my support. The rest of 'em can go to hades in a hand basket. Sumter is not getting her due for several major good things she's attempting to accomplish, development regs and comprehensive plan, to name a few. She's got a tough row to hoe considering the dysfunctional children she is forced to work with on the court, and the shadow puppet masters over them.

Anonymous said...

I will be watching with great interest the results of Tuesday's vote on the tax rate.

Those who supported the road bonds should vote accordingly. Honoring one's commitments is part of the Texas credo. Those who turn tail will say it all.

john said...

Kudos Karen for looking into further rainwater incentives.My incentive is free water. Oh yea the tank cost. Well free never really means FREE does it! I'm ordering about $6k worth of tanks and trying to get some neighbors involved to reduce my cost and I'm meeting with lukewarm at best.I've been collecting water in some form my whole life but another key is to conserve and reuse water. Heck flush with dishwater and capture water in the shower for flush or landscape plants. Hard times demand hard choices. These are changes we can incorporate into our culture.I'm not sure why we build new elementary schools(they are popping up everwhere)with large metal roofs and oversized gutters and extensive landscape and NO rainwater. We should be rolemodels for all these children who will definitly face water shortages in their lifetimes that we can't imagine.We can incorporate school curiculium into the rainwater in form of math and science. Billy Kniffen our beloved extension agent left to serve Menard county and the are so far ahead of Hays County it not funny. It's not just buying a tank and saying look at me I'm "Green" It's a matter of a paradime adjustment. We need to open our eyes. Just don't get me started. John Celletti aka Rainwater Guy

Anonymous said...

Most lenders can't underwrite a deal like that due to the insurance companies not wanting to insure the structure, since they think if a fire occurs, and the tanks are low, not enough water would be available to put out the fire.
It is gonna boil down to insurance company policies. The lender doesn't care if the house burns to the ground, because they are the first to be paid off. They just don't want the liability for financing a home without sufficient water available (according to what they believe currently). I bet its going to be the insurance underwriters who determine if it ever gets done, not the wholesale lenders. If the insurance binder covers them for the loan balance, they don't care one way or the other.

john said...

I can appreciate your point about low water RE: fire danger. If your tank is low and we are in a drought condition as a homeowner I will order a water truck to replenish my tank to a substantial level. I have both a well and rainwater backup. In the case of the household with rainwater only are they any more at risk than the household with a well that believes they are sitting on a lake when in fact they are about to run dry. I would feel much more secure in being able to look down into my tank and see 5k gals than to hope my well will continue to provide water in the face of historic draught conditions. It's just something to think about.
As far as fire danger goes we must be proactive and keep out homesite clear of the fuel that is sooo dangerous in rural areas. The good folks at firewise reccomend a 50 foot clearing around the house. Brush and dead grass is fuel for a fire and as we all remember with out fuel no fire. Don't wait till it's too late> I took the 2 day class and it was very informative as to the prcautins homeowners can take. Rainwater GUY

Anonymous said...

I also agree with what Mr. Stern stated. Spending large sums of money during this economic depression is foolish at best.

It also seems that building more roads will add congestion. Shouldn't the county look at public transportation options? Say, a good bus and/or rail network for Hays County towns?

Seem as that option would benefit more people.