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Letters to the Editor

Sing a Song

Why don’t we Americans sing our National Anthem? This beautiful song is played before almost every sports event and on many other occasions. It pains me to look over an audience and watch men and women mumble the words while depending on professional singers like Tony Bennet and Aretha Franklin to carry the tune. I watched this while attending a Houston Astros game recently. Then these same people raised the roof when singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” or “The Eyes of Texas.” Some say “The Star-Spangled Banner” is too difficult. They should listen to The Carpenters’ hit song:

“Don´t worry that it´s not good enough for anyone else to hear.

Just sing.

Sing a song.”

C’mon folks. Men and women have died to keep our country free. When it comes to singing our national anthem, it’s not time to be bashful.

– Tony Tucci, Boerne

Accessible news

Thank you, Fair Oaks Ranch, for making “From the Mayor’s Desk” articles more accessible to the citizens through email notification. Following are my observations about a few things said in the August article.

1. Discussing debt financing, the statement was made “one of the advantages of using debt financing is that it automatically goes away from the Interest and Sinking Fund portion of the tax rate when it is paid off.” In theory this is true, but in practice, not so much.

The taxpayers are currently paying off the street financing approved by voters. The rate of that I&S portion of the tax rate is decreasing each year (higher property values plus new properties). However, city leaders have simply absorbed the I&S decrease by raising the M&O tax rate by the same amount.

This is hard to spot due to consistent increases in the total tax rate the last four years, but is apparent in the details for 2019. In summaries and discussions, council and staff have repeatedly mentioned trying to keep the tax rate the same as 2018, in each case specifying the total 2018 tax rate of $.3668. Never mentioned is keeping the M&O rate level and adding in the now lower I&S rate.

I hope the upcoming increase in the I&S rate to pay off City Hall renovation financing would truly go away rather than move to the other side of the tax rate.

2. It is inaccurate to call the (previous) 8 percent, (now) 3.5 percent rule a revenue cap. A cap implies you cannot go above that amount, which is not true as evidenced by FOR’s 17.8 percent increase in 2018. It is a threshold above which the city must get taxpayer approval, not a cap.

3. Many negative comments have been made about lowering the threshold from 8 percent to 3.5 percent. I understand the 8 percent figure was adopted years ago when inflation was much higher. Inflation is currently at 2 percent or less, well below the 3.5 percent threshold. This seems more than reasonable.

The Mayor’s summary also fails to point out that any taxes from new properties do not count against the threshold.

4. The article describes recent changes in the law as “just a bunch of distracting noise” and a “shell game” and “cities will end up using more debt funds, raising money from fees to fill the gaps.”

I disagree and consider the law changes appropriate steps giving taxpayers more say in how much revenue a municipality can collect and spend. If FOR simply games the system to circumvent the intentions of the new legislation, the “shell game” would be the purposeful circumvention perpetrated by the municipal leaders.

5. This month’s article mentioned “wasting taxpayer resources on holding mandated elections.” Information gathered at this year’s budget workshops indicated general elections cost the city about $4,000, and any special elections add another $2,000.

Considering the city has roughly 4,000 households, a rollback election equates to only 50¢ to $1 per household.

City leadership has described prior tax increases as small, such as last year’s average increase of $181. How is a $181 annual increase small yet a one-time $1 or less cost to hold an election is an inappropriate waste of resources?

The minimal election cost is a strong argument in favor of the new law. It’s an inexpensive way for city leaders to justify any large tax increase, and for the citizens to consider the merits and then vote.

– Wes Pieper, Fair Oaks