Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wilmer Citizens will pay 2.8 Million Dollars for What?

I have been expressing the need to improve Wilmer water infrastructure, such as capacity, storage, and distribution upgrades. The aging system has been identified repeatedly as not sufficient for current population let alone the significant phase of development that has been predicted for several years, Wilmer citizens will now be dealt a hand that can not be folded. The losing hand is Dallas County funding  a 10 million dollar water project that will be repaid by the residents of Wilmer and Lancaster. This problem is compounded by the fact that Wilmer, passing the 2010 bond, could have been sailing on its own water supply rather than being reliant on neighboring Lancaster to sell Wilmer water. The negotiated terms of this new agreement is tilted heavily in Lancaster favor.This disastrous situation is due to Wilmer's lack of regional understanding of the issues.

In 2010, a bond package was proposed to address the needs of Wilmer water needs. This bond was for a total of 18million dollars. Most importantly, this bond would have provide Wilmer's own access point to purchase Dallas Water Utilities bulk water at a significantly lower rate. This difference in the retail purchase prices and bulk rates could have sustained the burden of added debt by approximately 60%. The plan to budget for the remaining 40% was to establish impact fees for new development and approximately .05/ $100 valuation in property tax which was less than $1 a month for the average homeowner. The bond would have allowed Wilmer to control it own water rates by eliminating the retail water supplier along with many substantial improvements. With the proposed agreement, the City of Lancaster now has the ability to set rates for Wilmer merely by raising prices. I am hopeful that Wilmer negotiators have established safeguards against indiscriminate pricing.

Let's explore the Lancaster/ Wilmer/ Dallas County waterline deal with the limited information that has been publicly discussed.

1. Wilmer buys water from the City of Hutchins. Wilmer will now purchase from Lancaster. Essentially same pricing, no change.

2. Lancaster has built too much capacity for current needs and needs to increase daily usage so minimum chlorination levels can be maintained. Wilmer has been purchasing water from Hutchins since 2010 with no stagnation issues. 

3. Wilmer will have a debt of 2.8M dollars structured for 20 years. Lancaster will pay about 2.2M.

In summary, without an access point to Dallas Water Utilities, Wilmer will continue to be reliant on its neighbors and the right to self determination is nill. Once again, without leadership that understands regional issues, Wilmer will be dominated and never be more than the red headed step child of Dallas County.    

Monday, December 9, 2013

It Has Been Awhile...

I spoke for the Texas Municipal Clerks Association in November. These are my words that I conveyed to the participants.

“You see, as Americans we're not defined by class, and we will never be told our place. What makes our nation exceptional is that anyone, from any background, can climb the highest of heights.”
Rick Perry
From the beginning of our great democracy, individuals have had the power to have their voices heard, to determine quality and standards in our society but something is terribly amiss in our country that is shredding the fabric that unites us.  Today, among the many disagreements, I believe the opportunity for our nation to overcome these differences, achieving a greater good for our society, is undermined by the overreaching need of inclusion and diversity for transformational ideas. Is too much inclusion and diversity spoiling America’s exceptionalism?  
Ayn Rand writes in “Textbook of Americanism”, “Do not make the mistake of the ignorant who think that an individualist is a man who says: “I’ll do as I please at everybody else’s expense.”   An individualist is a man who recognizes the inalienable individual rights of man—his own and those of others.”  Individualism today is being diluted in the ocean of politically correctness that favors moderation instead of boldness.  The strength of what has made our nation unique is the boldness of individual self-worth and the recognition of this need for self-reliance which made this quality the cornerstone that established our nation.
Today, the shifting of the country to collectivism has blinded American for we do not see or we are apathetic to the oppression happening before our eyes.  
We should acknowledge this shift in American values because this view was confirmed by President Obama’s in his inaugural address, he stated
“. . . that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedom ultimately requires collective action.”  Collective action.
These words are the underpinning of transformational change for collectivism. The ability to generate bold individual ideas is now hampered in today’s society of groupthink problem solving because individuals, who could add constructive content to the discussion, stay quiet for fear of retribution by collectivists, including the President himself. I believe it is this paradigm that is eroding American exceptionalism into the quagmire of mediocrity in everyday life.
We must define and build a society that understands that higher morals increases the value of human capital of our communities. Currently, mediocrity in America seems to be an average standard that is sufficient even for our children. Caring parents should teach love and respect but many pawn off this responsibility to others, such as teachers. Schools should be a tool for parents to reinforce learning, not a place to drop kids off like the babysitter.
I argue that my observation of today’s youth is unbiased because I don’t have children of my own; therefore, my opinion is based by contrasting expectations of my own childhood with expectations of children today.
When did the idea of participation awards come into vogue? You know the same trophy whether good or bad, the kind of amorphous award every kid gets, first or last. 
I get the idea of praising children is used to build confidence but kids are keenly aware too, that this praise is nothing special; therefore, undeserving praise is self-defeating and detrimental to self-esteem.
 Another observation, teaching children in our transitioning collective society was praised by First Lady, Hillary Clinton, even writing the book, “It Takes a Village”. Raising children to become responsible citizens and contributing to society, requires parenting, not a village. Parenting is the toughest job in the best conditions, but society’s move away from Christian teachings is weakening the nurturing environment.
Christian principles and traditional values like marriage before sex are systematically being eliminated from the conversation because of collectivism. The need for everyone to have input in this problem solving process jeopardizes the best solution. Traditional marriage has taken a backseat in America because anything and everything goes in the game of tolerance today.
Single parent homes are the norm, not the exception, in our changing society; consequently, single parents are increasingly dependent upon “the village” to raise their children. The collective village is not a place for young children because drug dealers, child pornographers, and many other scourges of society lurk in the shadows.
 In fact, negative influences are accepted by our culture by glorifying destructive behavior.  If you don’t understand what I am talking about, just watch prime time television or listen to popular music on the radio.    Until we, as a society, make a decision to demand morals and decency, children will not develop the social skills to protect themselves. This brings me to another intriguing problem facing kids today.
Bullying has been around since the beginning of man but now this issue has been brought to the forefront as a major concern for our country. Why? Is it because adults want to be friends with their children rather than teach respect?  Are parents shirking their duties and hoping for the best?
Are Facebook and Twitter replacing a parent’s listening skills? Probably, but the pendulum swinging further in favor of groupthink solutions mitigates individual parents responsibilities.

So, how can we create better solutions to our problems?  

I am very proud of our country and our people; although, we have lost our compass, as Ronald Reagan once said, “America is a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.”
Let us make a choice; henceforth, to   solve our differences using a common theme of united we stand, divided we fall.
In conclusion, lets remember the words of JFK when he said,

“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Time for Comment
First, I must apologize for the long pause between posts, but the Mayor and City Council have not moved anything pertinent enough for comment to improve the conditions of the city.  The meeting of April 19th is a different story. The two items that I heard that had relevance to me as a taxpayer were a presentation  to create a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) and an issue of waiving a connection fee for the Wilmer Academy, our charter school.
First, lets explore the TIRZ and the reasons that they are created. TIRZ creation is a mean for creating development in areas that are in such an extreme and burdensome condition and/or because of geographical location that there is not any interest in the developer community to invest. That is certainly not the case for Wilmer. Wilmer is the Alpha and Omega for the logistics hub with the Union Pacific inter modal . Generally, TIRZ are created for areas commonly referred as blighted areas (slums) that have little value to a developer unless incentives are made to him.The incentive to the developer is property value is frozen and taxable only at appraised value upon creation of the TIRZ. The development of the zone increases the appraised property value; hence, increases the property tax but the taxes due for the property have been frozen at pre-development value. This difference between pre-development and post development valuation is the increment of tax that is credited to the property owner for the development.
What is wrong with allowing a developer to have incentives to make improvements in the city? Nothing, but we, as taxpayers, should be aware of what we are giving up because city leadership must not. Property values have lost 20-25% in valuation in the past 3 years; therefore, creating a TIRZ at this chronological time guarantees the developer an additional built in bonus check of this amount from the citizens when the market corrects itself. The creation of a TIRZ also mandates the appointment of a Board of Directors made up of LANDOWNERS who are not necessarily citizens, essentially creates a quasi-government with the authority and power to evoke EMINENT DOMAIN with the authority to issue bonds, such as, CERTIFICATES OF OBLIGATION. We, the citizens, are on the hook for this debt without reaping any benefits because the property values have been FROZEN and taxed at pre-development level.
Investment incentives are tools that a well managed city offers for the improvements needed in the city. The creations of jobs is a main incentive for a city to partnership with developers. Tax abatement, 380 agreements, and other tools entice developers to create value for the city. Good leadership in the city will realize that the right tool is needed for the job. A hammer is a good tool but it would not be used in a china shop. City leaders should create an ENTERPRISE zone with tax incentives which will accomplish development without the substantial risks involved with a TIRZ.

Next, the city has an issue with waiving a connection fee for the Wilmer Academy. With blatant disrespect, Pena showed his lack of knowledge about charter schools calling it a "for profit" school. Mr. John Dodd, representing the Honors Academy, explained that a charter school receives funding from the State of Texas just as every other PUBLIC school with tax dollars.
It is clearly evident that this council is doing everything within its power to damage the only school located in  Wilmer. Charging a public school commercial water and sewer rates is not customary and is evidence that Pena and the Mayor do not care or value the youth of the city. Prohibiting the children from the library after school to this latest attack on the school only affirms the lack of interest for the children. Mr. Pena and the Mayor are unmarried so that could explain the insensitivity to the children of Wilmer. Residential rates have historically been charged to the school. The investment in our community should be realized with our children as first priority not with carpetbaggers. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Entitlement Mentality Gets Us Nowhere

I am on a research assignment for a class that I am enrolled in and was asking a colleague about healthcare. As a financial planner, my friend stays current with trends and he passed on this information. There are actually two messages here. The first is very interesting, but the second is absolutely astounding - and explains a lot.

  A recent "Investor's Business Daily" article provided very interesting statistics from a survey by the United Nations International Health Organization.

            Percentage of men and women who survived a cancer five years after diagnosis:

             U.S.                    65%   England              46%              Canada               42%

            Percentage of patients diagnosed with diabetes who received treatment within six months:

             U.S.                     93%  England              15%              Canada               43%

            Percentage of seniors needing hip replacement who received it within six months:

             U.S.                     90%  England               15%             Canada               43%

            Percentage referred to a medical specialist who see one within
one month:

             U.S.                     77%   England              40%             Canada               43%

            Number of MRI scanners (a prime diagnostic tool) per million people:

             U.S.                     71      England             14              Canada              18

            Percentage of seniors (65+), with low income, who say they are in "excellent health":

             U.S.                    12%    England               2%          Canada               6%

            And now for the last statistic:

            National Health Insurance?

             U.S.                 NO

             England            YES

             Canada             YES

            Check this last set of statistics!!

            The percentage of each past president's cabinet who had worked
in the private business sector prior to their appointment to the cabinet.
You know what the private business sector is a real-life business, not a
government job.  Here are the percentages.

            T. Roosevelt.................... 38%

            Taft.................................. 40%

             Wilson ........................... 52%

            Harding........................... 49%

            Coolidge......................... 48%

            Hoover............................ 42%

            F. Roosevelt................... 50%

            Truman........................... 50%

            Eisenhower................ .... 57%

            Kennedy......................... 30%

            Johnson.......................... 47%

            Nixon.............................. 53%

            Ford................................ 42%

            Carter............................. 32%

            Reagan........................... 56%

            GH Bush......................... 51%

             Clinton .......................... 39%

            GW Bush........................ 55%

            Obama..................... 8%

            This helps to explain the incompetence of this administration:
only 8% of them have ever worked in private business!

            That's right!  Only eight percent---the least, by far, of the
last 19 presidents!  And these people are trying to tell our big
corporations how to run their business?

            How can the president of a major nation and society, the one
with the most successful economic system in world history, stand and talk
about business when he's never worked for one?  Or about jobs when he has
never really had one?  And when it's the same for 92% of his senior staff
and closest advisers?  They've spent most of their time in academia,
government and/or non-profit jobs or as "community organizers."  They should
have been in an employment line.

         Why hasn't this fact been exposed in the media? Oh wait, the media is state controlled isn't it?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dallas County Water Department

There is an effort underway for the needed waterline for Wilmer to be constructed by Dallas County along the I-45 corridor. Although the need for a Wilmer access point to secure Dallas Water at wholesale or bulk rates is critical for the development of the city, the plan for Dallas County to exercise its powers created by a special act of legislation, should cause the citizens to investigate and ask questions.The Dallas County plan is advantageous for Dallas County but it critically undermines the self governance of Wilmer.

First, the water infrastructure improvement for the city are needed. Historically, the city has been short on resources to maintain the system that exists today which also lacks the capacity to serve current needs. With the focused effort to identify and prepare a strategy, the 2030 plan was implemented after council approval in 2010. This plan was crucial in identifying critical needs of the city and is now part of the North Texas Council of Governments current assessment of southern Dallas county infrastructure study and can be viewed at . This plan calls for each city, especially the cities of Hutchins, Wilmer, and Lancaster to be responsible for its infrastructure construction. This is important as each city will have differing timetables for build out as development increases. The ability of each city to build as needed allows for better management of the debt.

Next, the plan that Dallas County will present very soon will be to construct a huge 30 inch water line from Stewart Simpson road south to Ferris, TX. The construction cost to build the line will have to be paid for by (a) an increase in property tax or (b) an increase in water rates. How is this option any different than the bond proposal that was adamantly opposed by council member Pena? The difference is that with the Dallas County proposal, Wilmer will not have input in water rates because Dallas County Water Department will have the authority to set rates. Hutchins and Lancaster will not sign on to this project because they have been ahead of the curve and has issued debt for water infrastructure improvements by bonding; therefore, Hutchins and Lancaster will not be part of the factoring of costs associated with this project. So, that leaves Wilmer and Ferris to carry the full weight of the debt for this project. Why should Wilmer be paying the extra expense to extend the oversized water line to Ferris? As Mayor, I had been in initial discussion with Ferris to offer water by the same inter local agreement that Wilmer currently enjoys with Hutchins. This scenario enhanced the viability and sustainability of Wilmer issuing debt for the constructing the water line on its own.

In conclusion, the writing is on the wall and I am concerned that our governmental body is being swayed to opt for the Dallas County option of building the water line. This will have immediate effects to us, the citizens of Wilmer, because the burden for paying for the construction of this project will be evident in the increase of cost to live in this city. With the increase of cost, people will relocate: therefore, the oppressive cost will increase because fewer customers will be available to pay. This defeats any vision of the city of Wilmer to grow.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

City Administrator

With the confusion and lack of a plan, I am very excited that the city council will discuss hiring an administrator but how do we pay for the position? The amended budget has inflated revenue to offset the expenditures and is guaranteed to be in the RED by June/July so that issue needs to addressed. This hire is critical to the proper management of the city as the duties that have been delegated to the city secretary are beyond her capabilities. Perhaps this council can correct this horrible decision by hiring a competent person that can manage city hall.The budget fiasco is prima facie evidence that the Mayor has a lack of leadership as he allowed council member  Pena to put forward a budget which has no chance of succeeding. Pena is out of control and as long as the Mayor and other council members allow unfettered authority, the situation will only get worse. The Mayor has stated that his administration would be inclusive. I have one question for the Mayor. When do you plan to have an administration because Mr. Pena has stolen your authority? Did you take the appointment knowing that you would only be mimicking what Pena tells you or do you have any leadership abilities? I am waiting for signs of a leader but, alas, I am anxiously awaiting for a sign that one exists.  It is obvious that this city is mired in a sea of moronic decision makers so I hope that they can get this decision right. Let's hope.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How long does progress take?

A critical issue for the city of Wilmer has not been addressed by the current council. Identifying the serious issues regarding the water supply, a task force was formed on July 7,2011. Council member Hector Pena was named as chair of this task force to offer solutions to the dire need of water infrastructure improvement. As to this date, all the citizens have to show for his efforts is a political campaign sign in city hall above a sign up sheet. Evidently, Mr. Pena doesn't understand the severity of the water problem or he doesn't care. After 5 months there should be at least a committee formed. This situation would be laughable if the risk to life and property wasn't involved. Let's pray that a major house fire doesn't light a fire under Pena after the fact.