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Editor's Note: It looks like what we have here is a classic case of 'do what I say, not what I do.' We hope that in Mr. Rose's upcoming campaign for re-election for a fifth term (any term limiters out there?) many alert voters will ask him what exactly he stands for in groundwater management/conservation/development controls for counties, and taxation – and pin him down for some straight 'n honest answers. Politicians in Hays County are used to getting a free pass on their good ol' boy spin and pulling the wool over the eyes of uninformed voters. We all should do our utmost to ensure that political duplicity is no longer the rule but rather the rare exception. We appreciate Mr. O'Dell's tenacious reporting and for continuing to hold our elected officials' feet to the fire.
By Charles O'Dell
State Representative Patrick Rose has a perverted, if not inconsistent manner of matching his words with his deeds.
When asked to introduce legislation that would give the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District the Water Code Chapter 36 authority it needed just to ask voters for a small tax so the financially hamstrung District could go about it’s mission of protecting their water wells in western Hays County, Rose said, “I do not believe that during these difficult economic times homeowners should be asked to pay more taxes on their home and property.”
Then in a fit of amnesia Rose authored HB 4725, creating the Caldwell County Municipal Utility District No. 1 with authority to impose a tax, issue bonds and granting it power of eminent domain. Remember, the Trinity Groundwater Conservation District was just asking Rose for authority to ask the voters for a small tax, not to impose any tax.
Rose wouldn’t introduce legislation giving our Groundwater Conservation District authority to protect our wells, but he would author H.B. 2441 and HJR 83, both amending Section 49.4645 (a), of the same Water Code, and authorizing certain conservation and reclamation districts in Hays County to issue bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to fund the development and maintenance of recreational facilities.
And as if to thump the noses of well owners, Rose announced that he had secured a one-million dollar appropriation for the Rivers Systems Institute at Texas State University to conduct a San Marcos River Observing System project. "I am pleased to partner with Texas State in support of research that will further the environmental quality and economic security of our region," said Mr. Rose.
about protecting our groundwater?
Rose wasn’t through with his public generosity of using other folks’ money for his friends in high places. He introduced HB 714, a bill that authorized the Texas State University System board of regents to issue $52 million in revenue bonds that could be paid off with student tuition charges. What one hand giveth, the other hand taketh away.
Ok, so no one can claim that Rose doesn’t take care of his friends or know where his bread is buttered. His HB 3940 was written to provide assistance for certain employees of the legislative branch in repaying their student loans. All students are equal according to Rose, except that some students are more equal than others.
Driftwood – saving the best for last
But Rose saved his best for last. When his hometown friends and a huge campaign contributor came calling for a favor, Rose delivered with HB 4825 in the final hours of the 2009 Legislative session. That bill created the Driftwood Economic Development Municipal Management District, a special developer district that is designed to convert the Salt Lick Restaurant and 500 adjoining acres into a haven for those who can afford it.
Rose’s bill authorizes the new developer district to impose a sales tax, an ad valorem tax, an excise tax and a hotel occupancy tax, and the developer is the only voter qualified to cast a vote on the November 3rd ballot issue.
Here is where the Rose saga takes another perverted turn. Several months before, the Hays County Emergency Services District No. 6 board of commissioners had already decided to ask voters for approval of a one percent sales tax in its 281 square mile District, excluding the City of Dripping Springs. These additional funds would be used for additional fire fighters and equipment to serve everyone in ESD #6, including those living in Dripping Springs and in the new developer district.
More recently, the Driftwood EDMMD developer also decided to seek voter approval for a sales tax (only his vote was needed). State law limits the combined local sales tax to no more than 2%, and the new developer district sales tax combined with the 1% sales tax called for on the ESD ballot item would exceed 2%, voiding both tax election results if voters approved the ESD tax.
So the Emergency Services District board voted to cancel its 2009 election and make way for the developer. If the ESD holds its sales tax election next year, the developer district will be excluded along with the City of Dripping Springs which already has a sales tax.
Thanks to Rep. Patrick Rose, developers get their way in Hays County, even if at the expense of our fire safety planners and our taxpayers. So early voters living in ESD #6 will have to vote again next year at the earliest to approve increased fire and emergency protection. Of course those visiting the new developer district will continue to receive fire protection paid for by those ESD #6 taxpayers who also have fire insurance policies.
Oh, let's not forget. Rose said he fought to get our insurance costs lowered.
What to believe – what Rep. Rose says or what he does? “I do not believe that during these difficult economic times homeowners should be asked to pay more taxes on their home and property.”