Countryside South and Newport are both early neighborhoods on the west side of League City. Newport established a strict policy for increasing neighborhood association dues, and when we purchased a home there in the ’90s, we were paying about $36 a year.
The neighborhood park was run down with lots of weeds and broken equipment. They couldn’t maintain their park, so they gave it to League City, who added a play set, goals, removed the unsafe junk and kept it mowed.
Countryside South has tennis courts, a private pool, modern play sets, quality landscaping and events like an Easter egg hunt where we met neighbors who became lifelong friends. Yes, the members who arrive at annual meetings have raised the fees, but what we get for the now $300 is well worth the quality community it helps us to maintain.
Our state Senate just passed a plan designed to make it harder for communities and schools to maintain our quality of life by placing unsustainable limits on elected officials’ ability to pay expenses. This will devolve into expensive yearly votes on line items like you must vote yes or water rates will double, we won’t have the money for expensive flood insurance and school buses won’t run.
The current 8 percent cap has worked through recessions, double digit interest rates and oil busts. Because property value growth averages about 4.9 percent over decades, setting a cap below growing maintenance needs will eventually make community improvements and balanced budgets impossible.
These same state leaders who have capped the state’s share of public education with Robin Hood, so it now pays about 39 percent when the state used to pay half, and pushed the burden on local property taxpayers, now want to choke the system even more rather than planning for excellence and trusting local elected leaders.
You can’t get quality for nothing, and when the next crash comes, if this group is still in power, the state will continue to be shirking their responsibility to provide a quality rather than the current “barely adequate” public education. Only now they’re trying to suck local governments into the same financial death spiral.
I remember voting for a tax rate at the legal limit when two local business closed and people were slow-pays because, as contractors, they didn’t work after the shuttle broke on re-entry. We were not forced to start foreclosure proceedings on families with bad luck that year. The 8 percent gave us some flexibility.
The next year, when people were current and new business moved in, we cut taxes and eventually voted Galveston MUD 2 out of existence. It may take voting the current Austin politicians out of their existing jobs if we want leaders who don’t hate public schools (note the tighter rate cap for schools) and are quality of life for everyday people friendly, not just business friendly.