Sunday, September 19, 2010

What's at stake

There is only one sales tax measure on the ballot in November but it encompasses several major issues and concerns for San Angelo. It is first and foremost a referendum on local tax policy. Does San Angelo really need one of the several optional sales taxes that are available in Texas? Should it be a 4B economic development tax or would a street maintenance sales tax be better, or maybe a sales tax to reduce property tax? Maybe a mixture of these taxes or even none of the above? Can't at least some of these projects pay there own way? How did they decide, and is it time to rethink the decision.

This is a vote on a strategy for meeting the water needs of San Angelo and the Concho Valley for the long term. Is the Hickory Aquifer the best available option? How much will have to be added to the water bill to pay for the pipeline and to pump and process the water? Are we using our local water resources wisely? What about conservation and reuse efforts?

The vote in November will also affect our efforts to clean up the river. No doubt the river needs critical attention, but is this how we should do it? Is this about what's best for San Angelo, or just an attempt to mimic San Antonio?

This will be a referendum on how we do economic development and create jobs. Is the current use of incentives bringing us real value for the money spent? Are we spending to little or too much. Are we, perhaps, wasting time hunting snipe with handouts and industrial parks when we should be doing more to support existing businesses with strategies like Economic Gardening and Business Facilitation.

In addition, this will be a referendum on how we select, prioritize, and develop special projects. Besides water, the river, and job creation there are six special projects that aren't critical to the cities future like water, and that will never create good paying jobs. You might call them quality of life projects, but how were they selected? I don't remember any town hall meetings or recent polling on these projects like we had before the last sales tax election. I can't find where they were recommended or even looked at by any of the numerous citizen advisory boards the city has available. What was SADC's involvement? Out of the dozens of projects that have been discussed in the past and are in plans like RUDAT and the Strategic Plan, how did they decide on these?

Lastly, this will be a vote on the openness of our city government, the effectiveness of its communication, and the quality of the connections city hall has with the citizens of San Angelo. Isn't it interesting that we have been completing sales tax projects all over town for the last nine years but it wasn't until just before a new election on the sales tax that we are finally seeing signs in front of these projects telling us about it? Is this the type of communication we want with our city government? Is this openness or just an attempt to market taxes and services like hamburgers and corn flakes?

I will be writing more on all of these issues before the election, but I wanted to give you an early glimpse into where I'm going and what I see as the points that need to be covered. Lots to think about, and I may miss something so give me your feedback and ideas. I want the critical questions about the sales tax answered before we vote in November. This is an important election. The future of our city is at stake.

No comments:

Post a Comment