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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I am most proud of lowering taxes to 32.8 cents

The incumbent in position 4 is Ed Robb. Are you as dumbfounded as I am on his claims to have lowered taxes to 32.8 cents per $100?   There is a huge problem in this claim, as I see it. It cannot be related to the return on sales taxes, but must be related to his specific accomplishments. Let's see if we can find them.

On Aug 29th, 2007, in a presentation on the feasibility of annexing The Woodlands into the TCID tax district, a forecast of 29.7 cents was presented to the residents of The Woodlands. This became the expectation behind the ad valorem proposition for the expanded tax district, to be called The Woodlands Township. Voters went to the polls with that tax rate expectation. Some say there was an assumption that the reserves collected by WCA would be transferred to the Township and instead, the WCA gave it back to the residents before formation of the Township and thus the higher tax rate. Even if this is the truth, it still makes no difference to the accomplishment claim of Dr Robb. He should be held accountable for the mistake, since he was on the board of TCID and adopted this rate based on sound analysis. Generally the incumbents have not yet all faced up to the fact that they are held accountable for mistakes as well as bad decisions. 

Now let's take a look at how our current tax rate came to be. Budget workshops of the directors had been conducted to determine the proposed budget for consideration before the final budget meeting. Going into the last budget meeting, there were several pending issues including financial reserves and what could be removed from the budget.

The final budget meeting was conducted just last year as part of  the Township Board meeting of August 26th 2009 when our tax rate was also established.  To establish a tax rate,  the Township Directors first had to set the budget.  The proposed 2010 budget was presented and a motion to adopt it opened up discussion. An amendment was made to raise spending on outside (Shenandoah and Oak Ridge) police enforcement in The Woodlands by $92,000, but no vote was required. That became part of a previously approved amendment. Then a motion for funding the Indian Springs Fire Station was discussed and approved.  

An amendment motion was put on the floor to remove certain items from the budget to enable a lower tax rate. Dr Robb voted against that, choosing to join the same group he always seems to vote with, against a lowered budget. As a result, the budget was approved with the additional funding of the outside police contracts. That satisfied the requirements for funding the budget through taxation.

The stage was set for a motion and discussion on the tax rate. A motion for a 32-cent rate was put on the floor for discussion.  Dr Robb voted against this motion  that failed. Next, a motion for 32.8 cents was put on the floor. Director Sutton (Development Co) amended the motion to be 33.8 cents, because the Tax Assessor recommended 33.5 cents. Dr Robb voted for this higher tax rate. That also failed. Then Directors Richmond and Tough were the swing votes, not Dr Robb, to establish the lower tax rate of 32.8 cents. If other budget items would have been cut, the tax rate probably would have been even lower.  

Now I compare this to the article in The Villager where Dr Robb says -

" During my service on The Woodlands Township Board, I’ve worked for real results for residents. Some of the results I’m most proud of include:
1. ...
2. ...
3. ... 
4. Lowering property taxes to 32.8 cents per $100 valuation"

If he was responsible for lowering taxes, why did others have to vote against him to lower the tax rate?

Now I suppose you know where I stand on excessive budgeting, spending and taxing! In a corporate environment, we would have assumed there was fluff in the budget. Departments tend to add fluff and hide it in specific projects. When you come from a background that does not emphasize fiscal responsibility to stockholders, then there is excess budgeting and waste. From what is visible to us, the stockholders, we have budget excess, and therefore we have higher taxes than required, but Dr Robb is not the person pushing those buttons, at least not from anything visible. If invisible ... well, we would have an even bigger problem.

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