Keri Heath did a good job of informing the public with her article (“City to consider property tax hike for 2020,” The Daily News, July 7).

Her well-written article that illustrates how our money is moving in and out of the bureaucracies that take a portion and then claim to give the taxpayer’s their due. Just another sympathetic story of how difficult it is to be a politician. “Public servant” has become an absurd term. Their pay is comparable to the private sector; their pensions are the envy of private employees. All while the political leaders pander to whatever segment of society (incidentally, public employees are a larger portion of voters) they believe will produce votes — for me.

The performance/promises of political leaders have been progressively worsening. It’s time to drain that swamp and put into service professionals from the business world that have credentials related to increasing productivity and getting value for the taxpaying voters. The taxpayers carry all the burden, and without them, there is no future. Taxpayers are disgusted by all the pandering.

We want an administration that will look at itself and areas they directly control to reduce expenses, provide the services at reasonable cost, monitor and evaluate personnel and provide frequent periodic reports comprehensible to the public on project progress and final results. Simple reports published by The Daily News on projects and progress would provide incentive for these administrations to get it done.

Recently published admissions that there are government properties that are owned and that should be sold. Well, reduce the price on those properties, sell them and get them back on the tax rolls producing revenue — get it done.

I can recall when the county judge claimed that the expense of controller would be eliminated — it never happened — get it done.

And, when will we ever get governance that will be attentive to judicious handling of public funds? No telling how much ineptness and waste exists; especially since the public is only alerted when the size of the squandering is catastrophic. Remember the $523,000 fiasco? When will the administration give the public the (blame) cause and effect of the $523,000 stolen with a fraudulent bank transfer?

The administration should at least publish a comprehensible report since they conducted an investigation creating additional expense for this ineptness. They would have identified responsible individuals, policies and procedures. A full comprehensive report would be a “public service.”

The homeowners and property owners just received new evaluations from the central appraising bureaucrats and most property taxes increased. Realtors use every evaluation increase to raise the selling price. Realtors benefit, bureaucracies have more money to split up, and the property owners get gouged with higher taxes.

There are homeowners that have been driven out of their homes because of these increases. And the increasing property taxes are propping up school districts that continuously produce dismal educational results. School district superintendents and the elected boards lead districts into floundering academically, going into bankruptcy, taken over by the state and a quality of the education is dismal.

Shame on us. We’re not voting wisely.

David Hardee lives in Bayou Vista.

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(16) comments

Harvey Mueller

Well said. This hit home for me during the Clinton era when all the tax cuts were announced. When it came time to file my taxes somehow I never qualified. And this pandering to targeted groups has only gotten worse all the way from the national level down to our local politicians. And on the subject of property taxes, I am 68 and been paying them for 45 years and will be saddled with the until I die. I've paid for school taxes all those years but only used public schools for 19 years so 26 years I put money in for something I did not use. I think I've paid enough but really don't see why they are so high when the quality of education doesn't meet the exorbitant price tag.

Wayne Holt

All Texans should be made aware this state has provided an alternative to seniors and the disabled who risk losing their homes from rising property taxes. It's called tax deferral and if you are 65 or older, or disabled, and the property is your homestead, you may defer ALL taxes until you no longer live there or have sold it. Taxes are not forgiven, but they will grow at a fairly modest rate and be taken out of your estate to pay if you have passed. In the meantime, you do not have to pay them and in fact, if you are facing an eviction for back taxes, it will even stop that legal process dead in its tracks. There are some exceptions and angles to be aware of but the bottom line is, if you own your home without a mortgage and meet the age, disability and homestead requirements, you NEVER have to worry about being forced out of your home due to an inability to pay your taxes to live there. Every county in Texas by law makes the one-page form you must submit easily available; Galveston County has it online. This alternative has been on the books since the late 1970s and yet people still are giving up their homes when they don't have to. As you might imagine, you won't get a friendly call from the city or county filling you in on this if you weren't aware of it but it's good to know it's there if you need it.

Richard Illyes

The problem of unfunded pension obligations has overwhelmed our large cities and is spreading like metastasizing cancer to smaller and smaller Texas communities. Except for police and firemen, we should end public employee pensions. Governmental bodies should pay the rates needed to fill the jobs, pay into Social Security, and let employees themselves handle future retirement needs. For jobs which have traditionally provided early retirement such as police and firemen, they would pay into these pension funds with each pay check. Funds unpaid at the end of each year are lost. A procedure could be developed to calculate the amount due to other employees who were due pensions, and the governmental bodies would still be liable for paying them, but no new obligations would be incurred.

Don Schlessinger

An easy way to at least start solving the unfunded pension obligations is to stop allowing governmental employs from saving earned time off. Earned time off should be used in the same year it was earned or be paid at the end of a fiscal year. It won't end the taxpayer rape from pension responsibilities but it would be a start. I also think 401k programs should be started in city county entities. Force government employees, rather than taxpayers, to plan their own futures.

Ray Taft

Good starting point and let’s go after school administrations. Let’s clear out all of those folks from their fancy offices who get paid the big bucks, but do not actually teach anything or anybody. Focus on teachers and fire the administrative/office pogs. Let’s ask LT. Gov. Dan Patrick when he’s going to fix our school system because that’s what he said he was going to do when he first ran for the state senate. Now he’s lieutenant governor and nothing.

Gary Miller

RAY. The state should limit the number of "support staff" in Public schools to the average of Non Public Schools. Audits show most/all public schools employee six to ten times as many support staff per teacher as Charter and private schools. Are public school teacher so incompetent they need so much numbers of support staff. Fire the surplus support staff and use the savings to hire better teachers.

Craig Mason

Gary one reason for so many support staff folks is that the state requires one on one time for special needs students so that they can be mainstreamed as much as possible. As the father of 2 children who required special services I can say the support folks are worth their weight in gold. They only make 20 or 25k a year and work their ass off for that little bit of money.

Harvey Mueller

Every 'Independent' school district has it's own board, set of administrators and staff. This is duplicated across the thousands of school districts across the state. They are all beholding to the state for funding so are no longer independent anyway. The time has come to remove the duplication and let the state run the school districts. Standardized testing mandates all schools teach to the same set of standards so take advantage of economy of scale and make schools all state run - save charter and private. The time has come.

Craig Mason

Wayne that is good info on the deferred taxes, thank you. I agree with a lot of the article but there are some things not being said. The educational system was supposed to get a boost from the lottery and never really did. The state does not put anymore money into education than is budgeted by the legislature. Say if the state budget for education is 500 million dollars and the lottery produces 300 million, the state pulls back 300 million into the general fund. Then technically they can say that the lottery supports education, by using the 300 million of lottery money for that purpose. So its not like the lottery increased revenue for education. So when the state cuts funding like they did in 2011 I believe it was, who picks up the tab, the local taxpayer. We need dedicated and reliable school financing in Texas. On another note the municipal employees are not paid on par with the private sector. They are paid 30 to 50 percent less depending on the municipality and the profession. I worked for the city many years ago when I was young and the way it was explained to me, was that I was foregoing more money now for a better retirement later. I don't have the actuarial tables, but I think the city pays the same amount into the TMRS fund as they would pay to social security for municipal employees, excluding police and fire. I think what has bit them is folks retiring early and lifespans extending longer. No one is getting rich working for the city. On top off that there is this thing called windfall elimination that bites municipal employees as well. If you work lets say 20 years in the private sector, then say 25 for a city or county, your social security, which you have qualified for by working 40 quarters, is reduced by the amount of your municipal retirement. So you paid into both and qualify for both, but are penalized on one because you are getting the other. It is absolutely ridiculous and a money grab by the Feds. You and your employer contributed to Social Security, but will never recoup the money.

Michael Jozwiak

America elected a 'successful' businessman as president in 2016. Well, how's that working out for us??? How's he 'draining the swamp'???

Gary Miller

Mike. Doing great but real effects will be obvious when the swamp creatures ( AKA Democrats) start getting jail instead of government paychecks.

Bailey Jones

It's always fun to attack local government, and there's always plenty to attack. And I agree that voting is the solution - if you've got someone to vote for. I doubt that the solution to pandering is hiring business people, however, since the business of business is nothing but pandering - to customers, to suppliers, to stock holders. Local government will never be great - because there's no incentive to be great. The pay is the same whether you knock yourself out to achieve excellence or spend your afternoons playing golf. Transparency would help - but only if voters pay attention, which they don't. And we vote by party and ideology, not competence, so - good luck.

Don Schlessinger

"The pay is the same whether you knock yourself out to achieve excellence or spend your afternoons playing golf." People who knock themselves out and excel then stay in a job that doesn't recognize are accepting mediocrity. And, unfortunately, those folks wind up with bad attitudes. A person who accepts mediocrity can only blame themselves for their situation.

Gary Miller

City and school elections are on low turnout days. City and school employees are the majority of voters on those days. Solution? Citizens need to out vote the city and school employees. Complaning after not voting solves no problem.

Don Schlessinger

[thumbup][thumbup]

Paul Sivon

If you are concerned with fiscal accountability, the last person to get rid off is the controller.

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