Lets get beyond the rhetoric and set the record straight
Dear Midlothian taxpayers,
I would like to address a number of issues I feel are important to the taxpayers of the city and felt I could reach many of you by writing a letter and having it published in our local newspapers.
In addition, over the next several weeks I will be calling and visiting many of you to answer any of your questions you might have.
For almost three years, the city has been engaged in annexation of two "donut holes" located just minutes and a few miles from downtown Midlothian.
Recently your city council has been under attack with much mis-information and half truths. It’s important that you realize the source of this is from the leadership and members of the Rural Citizens Against Annexation (RCAA).
The State of Texas has specific criteria that cities must adhere to relating to annexation and the city of Midlothian has complied 100 percent.
As part of the state annexations statutes, the city spent several months negotiating with five members of the RCAA appointed by your County Commissioners and County Judge.
The individuals were Hank Miller, Tyda Shields, Randy Smith, Dennis Smart and Ann Majors.
The city committed to providing enhancements to the service plan required by the State of Texas, which would have provided many benefits above the "Basic Service Plan."
Additional roadway improvements, drainage improvements, a new neighborhood park to name a few were offered.
We also agreed to establish a Rural Zoning Board to address rural issues regarding land use. We agreed to waive all development fees for a period of five years for anyone wishing to build, remodel their home or business or develop their property.
The RCAA voted against the enhanced plan and arbitration was mandated by law. An independent arbitrator, agreed upon by the city and RCAA ruled that the "Basic Service Plan" met all of the state requirements and the RCAA was left with no enhancements.
The RCAA employed an "all or nothing" strategy and lost at every turn. Now their only option is to upset the political waters and they have indicated that they intend to do just that.
I first attended annexation hearing over 10 years ago when much of this same area was being considered by the council at that time.
I spoke then, as a private citizen, and encouraged the sitting council to approve the proposed annexation.
The prevailing request from the affected individuals, at that time, was that they knew that at some point in time they would become part of the city but they requested a few years to prepare for the financial impacts of having to pay city taxes.
The council felt this was a reasonable request and "put off" the inevitable. It has been over 10 years since that action was taken. It is only fair that all individuals, receiving benefits provided by the city and funded by city tax dollars, pay their fair share. There are many instances where individuals living in unincorporated area within the city’s ETJ (Extra Territorial Jurisdiction) are receiving services and are not paying their full share. I would like to cite a few examples and facts to support these.
Parks - In 2007 city taxpayers funded our parks with expenses that totaled over $750,000. Over 50% of all of the youth participants in our sports leagues live OUTSIDE our city limits. The "parks use fees" collected amounted to less than 4% of the total budget…that leaves 96% of the expenses to be covered by tax dollars paid for by individuals living INSIDE the city.
Fire and EMS - Another example is the Fire and Ambulance/EMS provided to individuals outside our city limits by the city of Midlothian. An independent study was conducted recently which revealed that the services the city provides cost substantially more than the dollars collected by the Emergency Services District (ESD) tax paid by non-residents. City taxpayers are subsidizing over 42 percent of the costs of fire and EMS services provided to non-residents.
I am proud of the work done by our ESD and recognize the importance of their work. The ESD board has committed to raising the tax rate for individuals living in the ESD over the next few years that will help "close the gap" and reduce these subsidies.
We are in the process of opening our third fire station within the next few months. The additional stations have required us to hire an additional 24 fire fighter/paramedics over the last 6 years.
We know without the financial commitment from the ESD this would not have been possible. Thank you! We appreciate everything you do to help us provide exemplary services to our constituents.
Senior Activity Center - We are proud to support our senior citizens and a number of years ago spent over $600,000 to build them a city building they call their Senior Activity Center.
We are fortunate to have a professional staff that looks outside our city for some of their funding. United Way, our industry as well as benevolent agencies have long supported Midlothian seniors. Any senior citizen living within a 5 mile radius of the activity center is provided free transportation to and from the center and fed free lunches daily (over 17,000 lunches last year). In addition, the center provides other support services for our beloved senior citizens. The city however picks up the vast majority of their operating expenses each year that is funded with city residents’ tax dollars. Individuals outside the city pay the same dues as our residents, which I believe are $5 per year.
Quite a deal for anyone, especially those that reside in our ETJ and don’t pay property tax to our general fund.
As mentioned earlier the mis-information is coming from the RCAA and an organization they have formed called Citizens For A Responsible Government (CFARG). The information published is filled with half truths and intentional lies.
During this election season they are advocating a change in our council.
They are committed to cause as much mistrust and damage to your governing body as possible and have no accountability to anyone, much less the voters and taxpayers of this city. During this election season you can expect more of the same. I would ask that you TRUST your council, look at the many positive things happening in our great city and realize that the council is making decisions that are in the best interest of our taxpayers.
I am certainly proud of our many accomplishments as a growing and thriving city.
There were very few cities in all of North Texas that reduced their property tax rate last year. Midlothian reduced our property tax rate while increasing levels of service to our residents and individuals living in the ETJ last year.
Please take the time to educate yourself about the issues surrounding annexation and managed growth.
I understand that a non-partisan organization will sponsor a forum that will allow all of the individuals seeking political office an opportunity to express their vision for this community so that you can be comfortable going to the polls May10 and electing individuals that best represent your vision and interest.
I am humbled to have served this community for nearly 20 years.
I have served on your Parks Board, Planning and Zoning Commission, Midlothian Community Development Corporation, City Council Representative and now as your Mayor and the experiences have been both challenging and rewarding.
I appreciate the many kind words, and prayers from so many city residents. In time, I am, as well as our council, hopeful that we can put the UNITY back in our community. God bless each resident of this city and God bless the City of Midlothian.