On Monday, three members of the Galveston County Commissioners Court showed how much concern they have for Harvey victims — none — by refusing to give owners of flood-damaged homes the option of a reappraisal, making them pay property taxes for what they no longer have.

Not a surprising act by County Judge Mark Henry. Had he cared for us he would not have hobbled the rescue and evacuation capacities and plans, staffing the county’s emergency management staff with just two people, cleverly camouflaging that insufficiency by counting the nuisance abatement and chief communicator officers, and even an office coordinator, as part of it. From what has been told, he did not hold emergency drills and apparently had no evacuation plans, leaving the cities to fend for themselves.

Leaving the cities to themselves and reducing services for them has been Henry’s attitude all along. Regardless of the fact their populations pay the same rate of county taxes as those living outside of them. Now, by refusing to allow the reduced value of flooded homes to be the tax basis for affected Galveston homes, he shows that he does not even care for the people living outside of cities.

That he does not give a blank about what the people need also showed in the mode of announcement and the timing of the meeting at 9:30 a.m., when most of us are busy earning enough money, part of which pays his income, and could not attend to tell him what is rightfully expected of him. And he advertised the meeting a mere week before only on the website, to which most affected people lost ways to access it.

The same non-concern for unincorporated areas seems to be shared by Commissioner Ken Clark, whose district contains just five miles of unincorporated roads. Just as Commissioner Stephen Holmes contains only 25 miles. Unlike Commissioner Darrell Apffel with 200 such miles and Commissioner Joe Giusti with 100 miles, which gives those two a true mandate.

As for Clark’s FEMA town hall meeting: Purely show! Because now, when it came to provide real help, help in the pocketbook, he showed his true colors.

And Holmes, the lone representative on the court of the party that declares itself as caring for the common man? He didn’t even bother to fake anything, did not even show up at the town hall meeting, and went along with obligating people to give what is not owed, property taxes for what no longer exists.

Apffel and Giusti’s care for all of us, regardless of whether we live inside or outside of incorporated cities, was defeated by that threesome, which yet has to show real contributions for the $1 million we spend on them for salaries, allowances, staff and offices, etc.

What do they, Clark and Holmes, do more than the cities’ mayors and commissioners, most of them serving, practically for free, populations that in many cases are more than 10 times the size of those living in the unincorporated areas of those two’s districts?

Hopefully, we remember the trio’s disservice not only in the upcoming county judge election, but also when it comes time to find someone that truly works “for the people” instead of the current county judge’s allies.

Gerhard Meinecke lives in Dickinson.

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(15) comments

Doyle Beard

Dont believe this guy understands the process

Gerhard Meinecke

Let's have breakfast and you can enlighten me. Seriously!

Doyle Beard

enlightening you is your duty.

Gerhard Meinecke

you may be surprised that your quick judgment of my knowledge what I do know or do not know may have been a tad hasty. 500 words allowed in a column did not allow for a detailed suggestion, considering the complexity of the process. - Still, I would enjoy meeting you and breakfast @ Denny's would be on me. :-)

Ken Hufstetler

Unless Mr Meinecke's home was totally destroyed, he would see very little change in his county tax. Even If his house was 40% destroyed his savings would be less than $100.00. Apparently he doesn't see any need to help the taxpayers pay for the unbudgeted Harvey expenses. He would rather take his $100 and let the rest of us pay.

Gerhard Meinecke

Please see my 10/28 comment

Gerhard Meinecke

I would plead the same for you if your house were destroyed by hurricane wind or a tornado, even if my house was unscathed.

Gerhard Meinecke

That's what makes a society great. Caring for one another.

Gary Miller

All politicians protect their own budgets. It's up to the individual taxpayer to attend to their own budgets. Which often requires taxpayers to become voters.

Doyle Beard

Gary I agree with most of your postings but this is a complex problem and People will have the opportunity beginning Jan 1 2018 to meet with CAD and work out the solution of reappraisals. All taxing entities have budgeted for 2017 and does oe really know what it would take to redo this for 2017. You cant make budgets on what kind of disaster we might have. I understand and feel sorry for the people who suffered great losses but as I said this would be a complex problem this late in the year.
I had my house completely destroye by fire in one year but paid the full year in taxes. The next year not having it completed I was able to get the taxes lowered until completed . I dont want to offend anyone , this is not perfect but most likely the way to do it. .

Gerhard Meinecke

Please see my 10/28 comment

Gerhard Meinecke

Very valid point. Clark, Holmes & most of all Henry should have made such statement after their vote or better yet as a press release. Not doing so is another symptom of not feeling accountable to the PEOPLE

Gerhard Meinecke

It's not about me. I have prudently paid Flood Insurance for 27 years and have sufficient coverage to repair my house. It is for the people that cannot afford either. Not the flood insurance premium and much less the damages, even with FEMA help. Relief could have been offered selectively, for people whose efforts we all enjoy for a piddly minimum wage or live on Social Security only. The County & State "Rainy Day" funds must be for 100" of rain or it could have been used for the budget short falls loss resulting from helping those who are at the bottom of our society's ladder. The relief could have been given proportionally for the remaining part of 2017. The effect on the budget of such a limited relief would likely not have been great since the people who would have benefitted from such a conditional decision likely do not have high value homes.

Ken Hufstetler

A little over three years ago my home was severely damaged by fire - structure and contents - in February. My appraised value was set in January. I was aware of how the appraisal system works so I took my lumps without complaint. I ended up selling the damaged home for basically lot value. For those who could not afford flood insurance, I believe we are taking care of them thru FEMA. And I agree with you that the relief for "those who are at the bottom of our society's ladder" would have been a pittance amount, but I don't believe the taxing entities can selectively decide who to give relief. That would create a problem and probably a lawsuit. That doesn't mean that those of us who didn't suffer loss can't directly help those who need help including donations to cover the few months of taxes left for this year. Properties will be re-appraised in January.

Gerhard Meinecke

nice comment

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