Okay, so I have this idea about how a school district or local government could raise a bit of extra revenue. I have no idea whether the tax code would allow it or not; that's for the lawyers to decide.
Basically it goes like this:
Right now your average consumer is strapped for cash, and would pay 20% or higher on an unsecured loan. Yet property taxes are payable all at once each year. On the other hand, governmental entities collect all this money at once, and end up spending it slowly over the course of a year. All of this money sits in bank accounts earning much less than 1% per year in interest.
My idea is to offer taxpayers an "amnesty" of sorts when taxes come due. Basically, the governmental entity would waive penalties and let the taxpayer defer paying the taxes without penalty. You'd charge a 12% annual rate (1% per month) on the outstanding balance, and allow it to be paid out within 8 - 10 months. As long as the taxpayer pays the bill completely within that timeframe, they pay no penalty and are not judged to be in arrears. If they miss it, then all penalties apply.
This way, the governmental entity earns much more interest, and in a win-win situation, the consumer pays much less interest than they would if they had to borrow the money to pay the bill.
Of course, there would be some cost to implement such a program, and state law may not allow it. But if it could be worked out, I think it would be a good idea. Maybe it's only a drop in the bucket though.
Since 2008, the City of Farmers Branch has been working on plans to expand its Camelot landfill, which is actually inside the Lewisville City Limits, according to documents we obtained from Farmers Branch.
On July 22nd, 2009, Farmers Branch hired the law firm of McElroy, Sullivan & Miller, L.L.C., and Brent W. Ryan to handle regulatory approval for expansion, including licenses from TCEQ and other agencies such as FEMA, USACE, FAA, TxDOT, Texas Parks and Wildife, U.S. Fish and Game, Texas Historical Commission, and City of Lewisville. The contract, without contingencies is estimated at $765,000, but if permits are opposed, the totals could reach $1.6 million.
Farmers Branch Assistant City Manager Matt Benoit says Camelot is estimated to have about 10 to 12 years of useful life left, depending on recycling rates. In the last available TCEQ annual report, Camelot collected 314,173 tons of municipal solid waste in 2008.
The current height of Camelot is at about 63 feet above ground level, but Benoit says that Farmers Branch would like to increase the height by an additional 200 feet, which would top out the landfill at 725 feet above sea level. By comparison, the permitted height of the DFW landfill (Mt. Lewisville) is 625 feet. The ground footprint of Camelot is expected to widen a little, but not substantially. Benoit says that due to the time and expense involved in major permits such as this, the most cost-effective practice is to go for the maximum increase and do it once, rather than going back every few years.
Unlike the DFW landfill, Camelot is currently not a 24 hour operation, so they are able to cover exposed garbage daily to keep smells in check. But in 10 years or so when many area landfills have maxed out, Benoit expects that Camelot will begin to receive the bulk of the area's waste. If this happens, Benoit says they may well have to move to the same practices as DFW landfill with regards to daily cover.
Senator Robert Byrd (92), of West Virginia has died today. He was the longest serving member of Congress in U.S. history, and was proof that people can change. Once a segregationist and KKK member, Byrd turned around and renounced hate, earning a 100% favorable congressional rating by the NAACP, and mentoring Barack Obama in his time in the Senate.
This music makes me want to dance. When these guys fired up, I grabbed my camera and had to get some video. Basically, it was just about time for delegates to get out of the exhibit hall and head for the auditorium. Perhaps the idea was to drive people out, but I just made a beeline for them.
Somehow, I just can't imagine the GOP having mariachis at their convention.
This weekend, we're in Corpus Christi, Texas for the 2010 Texas Democratic Party Convention. We'll post more thoughts, videos, and photographs later, but we wanted to pass along the Democratic Platform document, just adopted. It seems that so often, the other major party makes a big show of opposition to whatever it is that they suppose we believe - without ever really asking us or bothering to consult with what we believe. I think the majority of this is very reasonable.
"The Democratic Party is not a collection of diverse interests brought together only to win elections. We are united instead by a common heritage - by a respect for the deeds of the past and a recognition of the needs of the future." John F. Kennedy, from a speech he was to deliver in Austin on November 22, 1963
Texas Democrats believe government can be as good as the people. We have faith that democracy, built on the sacred values of family, freedom and fairness, can afford every Texan, without exception, the opportunity to achieve their God-given potential.
We believe democratic government exists to achieve as a community, state, and nation what we cannot achieve as individuals; and that it must not serve only a powerful few.
We believe every Texan has inalienable rights that even a majority may not take away …the right to vote …the right to fair and open participation and representation in the democratic process …the right to privacy.
We believe in freedom …from government interference in our private lives and personal decisions …to exercise civil and human rights …of religion and individual conscience.
We believe in equal opportunity for all Texans …to receive a quality public education, from childhood through college …to have access to affordable, comprehensive health care …to find a good job with dignity …to buy or rent a good home in a safe community …to breathe clean air and drink clean water.
We believe a growing economy should benefit all Texans …that the people who work in a business are as important as those who invest in it …that every person should be paid a living wage …that good business offers a fair deal for customers …that regulation of unfair practices and rates is necessary …that the burden of taxes should be fairly distributed …that government policy should not favor corporations that seek offshore tax shelters, exploit workers, pollute our environment, or spend corporate money to influence elections;
“It found 11 cases where crews on deepwater rigs had lost control of their wells and then activated blowout preventers to prevent a spill. In only six of those cases were the wells brought under control, leading the researchers to conclude that in actual practice, blowout preventers used by deepwater rigs had a “failure” rate of 45 percent.”
Population estimates released Tuesday for U.S. Cities over 100,000 in population placed Lewisville, TX as the 10th fastest growing city in the nation, estimating our July 1, 2009 population at 105,169, adding 3,408 residents since 2008, and jumping by 3.3%.
Frisco, TX was number one on the list, and McKinney and Round Rock came in at #3 and #8, respectively. Fort Worth was just after Lewisville, coming in #11 for a 2009 population of 727,575.
These are population estimates only. The numbers from the 2010 official census are not yet released.
As we wrote before, this past Monday night, 6/21/2010, the Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees met in open workshop to discuss the budget for the upcoming fiscal year - the 2010/2011 school year.
In a 4.5 hour workshop and meeting, Board members were presented with what appears to be a fairly lean budget based on a tax increase from $1.04 per $100 valuation to $1.17. There may be a few little areas that can still be trimmed without cutting jobs, but in order to achieve a balanced budget without a tax increase, there would have to be some massive cuts of personnel.
A rate of $1.06 would be a 2 cent raise that would bring the most bang for the buck, since the State of Texas would kick in additional money on top of what we collect. It would mean about $7 million in additional revenue. Additional cents beyond $1.06 actually net a bit less than the tax we collect, since some of that would go to the state under recapture rules. A tax rate of $1.12 would balance our budget.
In addition to the $1.06 - $1.17 the board might seek for maintenance and operations (M&O), the rate for interest and sinking fund (I&S) - basically bond payments, would be $0.3867.
Now, tonight on a 6 - 1 vote (Latham against), the board decided to publish the proposed $1.17 rate. This doesn't mean they'll vote for that, but they want to give notice of the highest possible rate they might choose. The rate they end up will likely be lower, if they want the voters to pass it.
Since the proposed rate would exceed what is called our "rollback rate" of $1.04 (this year's rate), a Tax Ratification Election (TRE) would be called - most likely for September. Voters could vote for the proposed rate, or against it, which would set the rate at $1.04 and cause the board to have to redo the budget and start making cuts or dipping into reserves.
You don't get to vote on the I&S fund rate, because you already voted for that tax increase when you approved the bond packages. (You knew those were tax increases, right?)
Videos are in the process of uploading, and will be available below when complete.
The presentation being discussed in the video is available in PDF format, so that you can follow along if you want. (258 pages - 5.6mb) The preliminary budget is also available in PDF format. (305 pages - 8.1mb) Note that the presentation and budget assumes that the tax rate will be $1.17 for M&O.