Wow, what a day. I'm physically beat, but mentally still wired, and having a hard time coming down. My mind is going 1000 miles a minute. I think I'll pause and get some water, some valerian root, and some melatonin and maybe get prepared for some sleep. Be right back...
OK, I'm back. I've been bouncing all over the place this week trying to accomplish everything I need to do. Unfortunately I'm not meeting deadlines in some areas. I've been busy on many fronts - with a new project at work that is taking some time to get up to speed on, and trying to do some consulting on the side. I've been working on a couple of stories related to LISD, and probably biting off more than I can chew there. I've also been trying to stay on top of oil and gas activities.
On the job - Pennies from hell
I've probably spent way too many hundreds of dollars of labor now chasing pennies for my employer. As I've mentioned before, I am a computer programmer, and I work in the property tax industry. One problem we have to deal with is that sometimes one tax bill needs to be allocated to multiple entities as percentages. But when you split dollar amounts by percentages, you end up with extra fractional pennies that have to go somewhere. I know what you're thinking: Steve's gonna pull something like that movie Office Space. But with my luck lately, if I did something like that I would end up PAYING all of those pennies on companies tax bills. At any rate, there's allocation error that happens when your percentages are rounded and don't add up to 100%, and there's rounding error when the individual amounts need to go to the nearest penny, and thus don't add to the total. If you split a bill among lets say 1000 entities, you can end up being dollars off. So the algorithms for making these pennies balance can get way more complicated than you could imagine. Up until the day before yesterday, I thought I had it licked. But I had assumed you would never have allocations of mixed positive and negative numbers. Wow, was I wrong. Give accountants enough rope, and they'll build themselves a nest in it. So that's been my world. Thankfully today, I think I got it fixed with seconds to spare before I had to head off to a meeting.
Talking about gas drilling
I've continued to read and study the issues around gas drilling in Lewisville. All I want is to make sure that we don't get in a rush to make a few bucks and end up causing big problems further down the road. I'd love for the next generation of Lewisvillians to look back upon our time and wonder what we were so concerned about. I want those folks to have plenty of clean water and clean soil, and the kind of neighborhoods that we are fortunate to live in now. I'm neither pro, nor anti-gas drilling. It just is. It will happen because the market demands it. We can be smart about it and make sure that any operator doing it in Lewisville follows the absolute highest standards feasible. We can't ever eliminate all risk, but we can reduce it to manageable levels, and cover the rest with operator-paid insurance.
So today, myself and a couple of other Lewisville residents with similar concerns met with city staff, and representatives of Williams, Chesapeake, and Titan to discuss our concerns and try to reach some consensus over what kinds of changes we might make to our city ordinance. Not all of our ideas were warmly received, but I would say the meeting was cordial, constructive, and substantial. There are some things I think we can reach some agreement on.
Basically, it's all about trying to listen to each other's concerns and meet them head-on. I know that the industry and people like me may occasionally paint each other with a broad brush. There are times when BS gets thick. But I'll say it again, like I've been saying it for the past couple of years: If we turn this into a pro vs. anti debate, we all lose. If we all get hung up on the politics of it, or fall in love with being right or being vindicated, we all lose.
I don't really want to go into extreme detail about what was talked about right now, but I will say that I'm optimistic about the possibility that there will be changes that can give Lewisville residents a bit more peace of mind on this. I think it's very possible that we could end up with some setbacks - specifically with regards to minimums with variance, and distance from equipment and water wells - increased modestly. I also think it is quite possible that emissions planning will become a part of the permitting process - basically just asking operators to tell us in advance how they plan to control emissions from well head to pipeline. It's not enough just to say that "the gas under Lewisville is clean". The horror stories we hear, we need assurance that there are contingency plans for. If a given well goes sour, we need to have something from the operator indicating what they will do to keep sulfides out of the air. If there's condensate, we need to know how they'll keep VOCs down. It's not that we want to add additional specific technical requirements for the heck of it. I'm all about giving them the freedom to use what works, as long as they can show us the equation and show their work.
Lewisville ISD Tax Rate Election
Speaking of pennies, I still don't know how I'm going to vote. I'm honestly at a loss still, and it's uncharacteristic for me.
I would, however, be able to give two pieces of advice:
- Don't vote for it because "it's for the children".
- Don't vote against it because you want to punish the board or administration.
I'm going to be talking to some people over the weekend, and maybe I'll have a decision after that. I still want to hear what y'all think though. What happens if it passes or doesn't pass?
Here's our new poll; let us know how you'll vote: